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Evacuation alert in B.C.'s Kootenay region expanded to include Shambhala music festival

August 12, 2017 6:04 PM
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Evacuation alert in B.C.'s Kootenay region expanded to include Shambhala music festival

Evacuation order also issued for nearby Nelway area

An evacuation alert in B.C.'s Southern Interior has been expanded to include the Shambhala Music Festival.

The electronic music festival is taking place at the Salmo River Ranch, near Nelson, 650 kilometres east of Vancouver, and is scheduled to run until Sunday. Organizers say about 15,000 people are in attendance, plus 2,000 staff.

Festival founder and owner Jimmy Bundschuh says his team has been working with the regional district and communicating with attendees to ensure they're ready for an early departure.

"The key will be to have people prepared and ready for it," Bundschuh said.

"That's our big goal right now is just to update our guests and make sure that whatever comes will not be a surprise to anybody."

A map from the Regional District of Central Kootenay shows the evacuation alert area in yellow, and the evacuation order area in red. The Shambhala Music Festival grounds are in the northern part of the alert area. (Regional District of Central Kootenay)

There is only one road connecting the festival site to the highway. Bundschuh says his team is working to install a dedicated pedestrian bridge to increase throughput.

The festival runs through Sunday night, and attendees typically began clearing out Monday morning. Bundschuh says the process took nearly eight hours last year, but he believes it could be done faster if necessary.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay issued the alert Saturday morning, saying the McCormick Creek wildfire had jumped the Salmo River and was moving toward the festival.

By Saturday afternoon, the Southeast Fire Centre said crews had dealt with the spot fire that had jumped the river, but said the fire is still out of control and the alert still remains in place for the festival.

The alert means people in the area must be ready to leave if the district gives an evacuation order.

In a release, the regional district says the fire has grown to 250 hectares in size and is "behaving unpredictably."

The district also issued an evacuation order for the nearby Nelway area, which includes 38 homes and the Nelway border crossing into the United States.


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