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Over 1,000 properties near Invermere, B.C., under evacuation alert due to fast-growing Horsethief Creek fire

A wildfire in southeastern British Columbia that was first spotted Monday afternoon has burned three square kilometres in less than 24 hours and is threatening more than 1,000 properties, including a ski resort, west of Invermere.

The B.C. Wildfire Service (BCWS) says smoke and challenging flying conditions have prevented accurate mapping of the Horsethief Creek blaze in mountains 10 kilometres west of Invermere and seven kilometres north of Panorama Mountain Resort.

Invermere Mayor Al Miller said the fire grew rapidly Monday evening and has affected many ranchers.

“It’s certainly looking very smoky,” he told host Chris Walker on CBC’s Daybreak South Tuesday morning. “It was pretty scary for a lot of people.”

The Regional District of East Kootenay ordered evacuations late Monday for 25 properties and several recreation sites.

The same blaze has also prompted evacuation alerts for people in more than 1,000 other properties, including the resort, meaning they should be ready to leave on short notice.

The Lladnar Creek wildfire, which was first detected near Sparwood — about 120 kilometres southeast of Invermere — last Friday, has charred 1.5 square kilometres of land, according to the BCWS. 

The fire prompted the District of Sparwood to issue evacuation alerts for approximately 500 properties on Matevic Road and in Sparwood Heights over the past two days, according to Sparwood Mayor David Wilks. 

Wilks said many Sparwood residents are worried because the fire seemed to be quickly approaching the town Tuesday morning due to strong winds.

“What I’m trying to just tell people is stay calm, be prepared to pack up things that you think that are precious to you that you want to take with you, and if an evacuation order does come down, you’re ready to go,” he told CBC’s Daybreak South.

Strong winds are also also complicating firefighting efforts both around Invermere and at the St. Mary’s River wildfire near Cranbrook, about 67 kilometres west of Sparwood.

But the wildfire service says control lines are holding on the 41-square-kilometre Cranbrook-area blaze, although evacuation orders and alerts are still posted.

Ross Moore Lake fire doesn’t threaten roads yet: BCWS

South of Kamloops, officials say cooler weather and a trace of rain helped calm the 26-square-kilometre Ross Moore Lake wildfire, but flames have claimed at least one remote cabin, while more than 300 properties remain under evacuation order.

BCWS information officer Mike McCulley said the Ross Moore Lake fire has grown, but it isn’t threatening the Coquihalla Highway and other roads and infrastructure.

“We’ll be working to make sure we have the right resources on the fire to try to keep it from getting much larger,” McCulley said in Kamloops Tuesday morning.

Early Tuesday the wildfire service was reporting almost 470 active fires across B.C., most caused by lightning, with 264 ranked as out of control.

Almost 15,000 square kilometres of land has burned this year, surpassing the record set at the end of the 2018 wildfire season.

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