April 17, 2020, Squamish, B.C. – A local state of emergency has been declared near Squamish as a wildfire has charred more than one square kilometre of bush and trees in the Upper Squamish Valley.
The District of Squamish issued the declaration late Wednesday after the out-of-control fire threatened a handful of homes, a campground and B.C. Hydro infrastructure.
At least six homes — along with numerous cabins and businesses — have been evacuated and evacuation alerts are also in effect for residents of Paradise Valley.
Squamish RCMP Sgt. Sascha Banks says some structures have been lost to the blaze.
“There have been structures that were compromised (Wednesday), and obviously the fire is still active so that may change where we have additional structures that have been compromised,” said Banks, who noted the true extent of the damage might not be realized until after the fire is extinguished.
The B.C. Wildfire Service says there are 37 firefighters working on the fire, along with three helicopters, three excavators and a structural protection unit on site.
Environment Canada forecasts the Squamish area could reach 21 C today with gusty winds and only a 30 per cent chance of showers by Friday.
Banks says the Executive Suites Hotel & Resort in Squamish is taking on evacuees.
“The fire is not contained and is still moving as of this morning,” said Banks.
Banks says the COVID-19 pandemic complicates the situation but the main priority is getting everyone out of the fire’s way safely.
RCMP say they were notified about the fire at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday.
They say it jumped from the south side of Squamish Valley Road at Magee Road to the north side, making the road impassable, and the fire is moving quickly in dry conditions.
Squamish Nation council member Khelsilem Tl’akwasikan, also known as Dustin Rivers, tweeted just after 6:30 p.m. that the nation is aware of the situation and alerting its members in the area.
Police say road blocks in the Squamish Valley are in place and most residents are staying to help fight the fire.
On Thursday morning, the District of Squamish instituted a ban on all open burning, with the exception of small campfires (less than half-metre high by half-metre wide) and cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes. Campfires are only allowed on private property and only with a fire permit.