The Ashcroft Reserve wildfire continued to grow yesterday, with the BC Wildfire Service saying that the blaze covered 10,300 hectares as of Tuesday, July 11. The fire started just south of Ashcroft at around 10 p.m. on Thursday, July 6. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
More than 120 ground crew, eight to 10 aircraft, and nine pieces of heavy equipment were tackling the fire on July 11, with numbers expected to grow with the arrival of the first of 310 firefighting personnel from other Canadian agencies, who began arriving in B.C. on July 9. They will help the BC Wildfire Service get the upper hand on the 225 wildfires that are burning in the province.
Once the hundreds of newly arrived fire crews, support staff, incident management teams, and fire investigators have been briefed, they will be deployed wherever they are needed in the province.
Although Highway 1 is officially still listed as closed from 10km south of Cache Creek to 5km east, RCMP Sgt. Kathleen Thain has confirmed that Ashcroft residents (and anyone else passing through) going to the coast can take Highway 97C from Ashcroft to the junction with Highway 1 and then turn south.
Cornwall Road remains closed.
Thain says that while Ashcroft residents travelling north from the coast can take Highway 1 to 97C and then come into Ashcroft, those who just want to visit should postpone their trip until another time. “Police suggest you stay away if you’re just visiting,” she says, noting that with things as they are, police would rather not have to worry about even more people in the town.
For highway closure information, visit www.drivebc.ca.
She adds that those who are coming to pick up someone and take them elsewhere during the current situation are fine. Thain notes, however, that the resident who is leaving should let someone else in town know, in case of an emergency.
“Let someone else in the community know you’re going, so we don’t have to worry about you.”
Thain also says that stories of looting in Cache Creek—which remains under an evacuation order—are unfounded.
“That is the biggest piece of misinformation out there,” she says. “There have been no reports of looting, and we have not attended any incidents.”
She notes that there is a strong police presence in the village. “Members from Southeast District have been brought in to run the Emergency Operations Centre.”
Any locals worried that day-to-day policing in area communities is at risk should rest assured. “The people at the roadblocks are not from our community. Ashcroft RCMP are still answering local calls for service.
“We are responding to calls for service, and assisting [the emergency efforts] where necessary. We are here, and we will respond.”
A media tour of the Boston Flats trailer park took place at midday on Tuesday, July 11, and a number of journalists—including three from Black Press—were on hand to view the destruction, take pictures and videos, and film at the site.
Sgt. Kathleen Thain of the Ashcroft RCMP detachment confirmed that residents of Boston Flats had been allowed back in to visit the site before the media tour took place. This was done on purpose, so that those residents who wanted to visit could do so privately and without press being present. It also meant that the residents were able to see the site at first hand before any images began appearing in the media.