Over 130 structures lost in Shuswap wildfire

Emergency officials for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) have confirmed that 131 structures have been destroyed by the Bush Creek East wildfire.

In an update Thursday afternoon, officials explained that in addition to the structures lost, 37 more have been damaged.

“Full damage assessments have been hindered by ongoing wildfires as you know in the region. The CSRD is committed to supporting the community members during this very challenging time and will be individually contacting property owners to facilitate to assist you,” said information officer Eric Thompson.

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Officials explained that the urban search and rescue team, Canada Task Force 1, has not been able to assess any new areas on Thursday due to safety concerns.

A silver lining, however, is that no deaths have been confirmed.

“We’ve heard over the past days how intense this fire behaviour was. So we’re all very grateful that no lives appear to have been lost, and that public safety has been the paramount concern here,” explained information officer Tracy Hughes.

“There were cheers in our (emergency operations centre) when we heard about this news.”

The Bush Creek East fire is one of two that make up the Adams Complex of fires. As of Thursday, it was burning at 41,000 hectares, with fire officials noting it has not significantly grown in the past 72 hours.

BC Wildfire Information Officer Mike McCulley says the fire has had over 200 personnel, 100 pieces of heavy equipment, and 17 helicopters focused on it. He says lately, the late-summer weather has been helpful.

“We’ve had a bit cooler weather, a little higher humidity at night. And the other thing that happens to us around this time of year is the days start to get shorter, and the nights get longer. That is a huge advantage for us much more so than people would expect,” he said.

However, he says warmer, drier weather is on the horizon.

“We are looking at continually increasing temperatures approaching 30 degrees again here by late weekend. Humidity is dropping down under 30 which can cause really challenging fire conditions. So we do know that fire behaviour will pick up in this area again in the coming days,” he noted.

A number of properties surrounding Shuswap Lake remain on evacuation orders due to the complex of wildfires burning in the area.

The Bush Creek East wildfire was first discovered on July 12.

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