The Kookipi Creek wildfire near Boston Bar has grown to 13,674 hectares as of Tuesday morning (Aug. 22), growing more than six times in size since Aug. 18, when it was estimated at 2,000 hectares.
Evacuation orders and alerts issued by the Fraser Valley Regional District, Thompson-Nicola Regional District, Lytton First Nations, Kanaka Bar Indian Band, Boothroyd Indian Band, and Siska Indian Band are still in place.
Highway 1 between Hope and Lytton also remains closed in both directions, as the fire has crossed the highway. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure staff continues to man roadblocks to stop unauthorized entry, and reminds the public to stay out of the immediate area and off the roads as much as possible, to allow for essential crews and personnel to move through the area.
The fire, which was discovered on July 8, exploded on Aug. 17, fanned by high winds and continuing hot temperatures which reached 42 C around Lytton earlier in the week.
According to the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS), the fire’s extreme behaviour, and continued growth to the north and east of Nahatlatch Lake and the Fraser River, were due to gusty winds. They also noted that the fire is burning in complex, steep terrain.
Currently, seven helicopters, an incident management team, 12 heavy equipment, a bird dog, 26 structure protection personal, along with 85 firefighters, are working to contain the fire — as well as protect vital infrastructure in the area, including transmission lines, railways, and Highway 1.
Cliff Chapman, BC Wildfire Service’s operation director, said they expected the fire to push across the valley out of the Nahatlatch drainage into the Fraser River drainage. He added that the fire eventually jumped Highway 1 and estimated the flames to be between 150 and 200 feet tall.
The fire began in the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD), which declared a state of local emergency in Area “A”. It also issued an evacuation order, and began a tactical evacuation, for properties on the north and south sides of the Nahatlatch River, and at 9 p.m. on Aug. 17 issued an evacuation alert for the communities of Canyon Alpine, Boston Bar and North Bend.
“I realize that residents would like more information and some degree of certainty during this time,” said Jason Lum, the Board Chair of FVRD, on Aug. 20. “Unfortunately, there is nothing certain about wildfire behavior. But I can assure you that the residents’ safety is our top priority. Fire crews continue to be out in the field 24 hours a day, and all stakeholders continue to work diligently to monitor fire conditions and act accordingly.
“Please stay safe and continue to take care of each other. We will get through this together.”
In the late afternoon of Aug. 17 the fire spread north into the Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD), which has issued evacuation orders for 42 addressed properties in TNRD Area “I”.
The properties are between the TNRD’s boundary with the FVRD at Falls Creek, north of Boston Bar, and the southern boundary of the Village of Lytton.
First Nation communities in the region have also issued evacuation orders and alerts.
All evacuation orders can be found at www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/current-wildfire-information-2023 .
Everyone in the areas under evacuation order must leave immediately. To receive Emergency Support Services, residents should self-register using the Evacuee Registration & Assistance (ERA) tool at https://ess.gov.bc.ca/.