With evacuation orders and alerts lifted for the Flood Falls Trail wildfire, people are starting to feel hopeful that things are improving.
On Tuesday (Sept. 13), the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) and the District of Hope jointly rescinded the evacuation orders and alerts for the 12 properties in Hunter Creek Road and Laidlaw most affected by the 545-hectare blaze. Earlier that day, the District of Hope informed the community that they didn’t anticipate issuing more evacuation alerts and orders.
The fire is also in close proximity to Chawathil First Nation, Shxw’ow’hamel First Nation, and Peters First Nation.
According to both Chawathil councillors Deanna John and Audrey George, Chawathil First Nation lifted its evacuation alert for their community as of Wednesday morning. John is director of operations, and George is the emergency program director. John says about 200 members live close to the fire, near the river and on the mountain, and many of them have medical concerns that makes transport urgent, if the blaze gets worse.
Both the Shxw’ow’hamel and Peters First Nation offices could not be reached. It is uncertain if those communities were, and currently are, under evacuation orders and alerts.
The FVRD and District of Hope jointly issued an evacuation alert on Friday (Sept. 9) for the Flood Falls area of the District of Hope and part of Electoral Area B. This expanded on Saturday (Sept. 10) to include parts of Laidlaw. At midday Sunday (Sept. 11) the first evacuation order was issued to at least four properties that the district said faced “an immediate danger to life and safety and health.”
The evacuation order was later extended to include nine more properies in Hunter Road Creek and Laidlaw.
The properties affected by the evacuation order were: 59800, 59850, 59895, and 59945 Hunter Creek Road; 60000, 60100, 60150, 60200 and 60300 Trans Canada Highway; 59100, 58970, and 594020 Laidlaw Road.
Highway 1 was also affected by the severity of the wildfire. A closure was issued for Highway 1, eastbound, between Chilliwack and Hope on Sunday. During this time, motorists were forced to use Highway 7 and Highway 9. It remained closed until late afternoon Monday (Sept. 12).
The blaze started last Thursday evening (Sept. 8), and continued to burn over the weekend. Originally 65 hectares, the fire grew significantly over the past few days and, as of Wednesday, it is still visible from Highway 1. Five helicopters and 64 firefighters were fighting the wildfire, which continues to burn on very steep terrain. Meanwhile, helicopters continued to focus on the east and west flanks of the fire.
An air quality advisory continued to be in effect for the area.