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Cooler conditions help crews contain Anderson Lake wildfire

Evacuation order for Ponderosa, McGillivray lifted

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Cooler conditions and light rain have helped firefighters contain the spread of a wildfire near Anderson Lake over the past week.

At press time, the Grouse Creek fire, located 4.5 kilometres northwest of D'Arcy, sat at 848 hectares—where it has remained for several days, thanks in part to a smattering of rain and a drop in temperatures over the past weekend.

"Crews have been making really good progress," noted fire information officer Nicole Bonnett. "The cooler temperatures and the precipitation that have been onsite there have definitely helped them; it's definitely minimized fire behaviour."

The favourable conditions led the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) to rescind an evacuation order for Ponderosa and McGillivray on Sunday, Aug. 26. The order, which was issued last Wednesday, Aug. 22, applied to roughly seven full-time residents in the area at the time, said SLRD emergency program manager Ryan Wainwright. Only one resident chose to evacuate, he noted.

"We need to make sure that people understand that when an evacuation order is put in place, it's not done lightly by BC Wildfire or the local government; in this case, the SLRD," Wainwright said. "The conditions do exist that make it very reasonable to leave your home and stay away for the duration of that order. However, in the province of B.C., people do have the ability to stay on their property once the order is in place, provided they give us the information we need and stay on their own property."

An evacuation alert remains in place for Ponderosa, McGillivray and D'Arcy. An alert is issued to give residents time to prepare to evacuate their premises if it's deemed necessary.

"Right now, things are dramatically improved," Wainwright noted. "It's still an active fire, so very much that order is still in place."

Highline Road has been reopened to local traffic from Kilometre 0 to 6.

Thirty-one firefighters, two helicopters and five pieces of heavy equipment are onsite at Anderson Lake battling the blaze.

At press time on Tuesday, Aug. 28, Bonnett said crews were preparing to conduct a test burn, and, if conditions allow, they will then carry out small-scale planned ignitions to help prevent the further spread of the fire.

"They'll be removing a little bit of understory fuel to prevent that from catching on (fire) on its own later on as things start to dry out," she added.

A smoky skies bulletin for Whistler has been rescinded by Environment Canada. The air quality rating at deadline sat at 1, or low risk.

The Grouse Creek fire was first discovered on Aug. 7 and is believed to have been caused by lightning. It is one of 56 "wildfires of note" and 548 active fires burning across B.C. Fires are considered wildfires of note if they are especially visible or pose a threat to public safety, according to the BC Wildfire Service.

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