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North Shuswap residents prepare for return home

Most evacuation orders triggered by Bush Creek East blaze being downgraded to alerts this week
Burned trees fallen in the wake of the Bush Creek East wildfire. (CSRD photo)

North Shuswap residents are preparing to return to their communities after the Bush Creek East wildfire swept through last month.

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) is organizing opportunities for residents to see their properties and lost structures today (Tuesday, Sept. 5) for Celista and area and Wednesday, Sept. 6 in the Scotch Creek and Lee Creek areas.

Following these tours, the CSRD will begin to downgrade evacuation orders, reads a Monday, Sept. 4 update.

Beginning at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6, the evacuation order for the Celista and Magna Bay areas will be downgraded to an alert. Beginning at 4 p.m., Scotch Creek and Lee Creek areas will go from order to alert, and at 7 p.m., Lower East Adams Lake and Tsútswecw Park areas will be downgraded from order to alert.

The CSRD is asking people not to arrive early to return, as it could create congestion and said Emergency Support Services will remain in place after evacuation orders are downgraded for a short time to allow people to come after the initial congestion has cleared up. Non-locals are asked to stay away from the area.

Visit the CSRD’s interactive map for more information on your property’s evacuation notification.

As of Sept. 4, 2023, the Bush Creek East fire was responsible for the loss of 176 structures within the CSRD, with another 50 having sustained partial damage.

The fire has left significant damage behind and this creates dangerous conditions, warned the CSRD. Ash pits, holes in the ground filled with ash and potentially hot embers that collapse under weight, are present in the areas, as well as danger trees and hazardous particles in the air.

No one should enter burned structures or burned forested areas, as buildings may give off toxic dust, chemicals, wires and sharp objects and forest hazards will remain for years, reads the update. Water should not be consumed until testing has been done.

There is still some rank 1 fire behaviour in the area, and it continues to burn deep underground, said the CSRD.

Cooler temperatures and possible showers will help firefighting efforts in the area.

Refrigerator and freezer disposal is available in Sorrento, Anglemont and St. Ives. If a resident thinks their appliance is unsafe to open or has been instructed to discard it, the CSRD recommends first checking with an insurance provider then taping the doors shut and labelling the appliance ‘contaminated’ in large print.

Transport the refrigerator or freezer to;

  • Sorrento: Skimikin Transfer Station (Friday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) or Salmon Arm landfill (every day, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
  • Anglemont and St. Ives: Properties outside the evacuation order zones can be brought to the Ross Creek Store (6929 Squilax-Anglemont Rd.)

Contact John Dyck with Christian Aid Ministries at 250-517-0075 for help moving appliances.

Emergency Support Services is at the Fairfield Inn and Suites, 790-16 St. NE in Salmon Arm, open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. Contact 250-833-3360 and 250-833-3396 to inquire about donations.

Read more: North Shuswap family shares story of wildfire home loss

Read more: Possible rain, cooler temperatures forecasted for Shuswap wildfire


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Rebecca Willson

About the Author: Rebecca Willson

I took my first step into the journalism industry in November 2022 when I moved to Salmon Arm to work for the Observer and Eagle Valley News. I graduated with a journalism degree in December 2021 from MacEwan University in Edmonton.
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