Smoke from a slash fire is seen near Squamish, B.C. on Wednesday, April 15, 2020 in this Squamish RCMP photo posted on their Twitter account. RCMP say a slash fire is burning out of control north of Squamish, British Columbia, prompting local evacuations. Mounties say the fire has started moving up the Squamish Valley. (Squamish RCMP photo)

Squamish declares local state of emergency as uncontrolled wildfire prompts evacuations

Squamish Valley campgrounds and six homes located near the fast-moving fire

People are being asked to stay away from an area north of Squamish as emergency crews work to fight an out of control fire measuring 100 hectares in size which has sparked evacuations of at least six homes.

Meanwhile, the district has declared a local state of emergency.

“A wildfire and its impacts knows no borders, and so the swift and coordinated initial and ongoing effort of multiple jurisdictions is critical to effectively support the response, and most importantly to support those residents directly impacted,” District of Squamish Mayor Karen Elliott said in a statement on Thursday (April 16).

The slash fire was first reported around 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday, and has since cut off access to the main road into the small community of Brakendale. Officials suspect the fire was human-caused.

The BC Wildfire Service had 22 firefighters and three helicopters working the blaze before dusk, with more than a dozen personnel working through the night.

Sgt. Sascha Banks said the Executive Suites Hotel & Resort in Squamish was taking on evacuees.

Officers were to be spending Thursday going door to door within the Paradise Valley and Cheekeye Indigenous Community to ensure all those in the community are updated and ready to go at a moments notice.

The COVID-19 pandemic complicates the situation, but the main priority is getting everyone out of the fire’s way safely, Banks said.

“This is a very trying time for our communities already, in light of everything that is happening in our world right now,” said Tony Rainbow, Squamish-Lillooet Regional District board chair.

– with files from The Canadian Press

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Evacuation order declared in Squamish due to wildfire on Thursday, April 16, 2020. (Emergency Management BC photo)

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