Sunday, July 5th27.9°C
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Eerie morning sky

As approximately 170 wildfires rage across parts of B.C., the smoke and ash have spread over several communities, prompting residents along the coast to share their eerie morning photos.

As the sun rose over Vancouver Island and most of the Lower Mainland, residents were shocked to look up and see a red sky.

Sunday morning’s very bright sun appeared to be more of an orange-red colour to residents in along B.C.'s south coast as smoke and haze covered the sky.

Reports indicate some residents in the Gulf Islands woke up to a layer of ash on their vehicles.

The Coastal Fire Centre reports the haze is a product of smoke from B.C.’s interior blowing out to the coast.

Reports indicate Metro Vancouver is monitoring the situation, but that it is unlikely an air quality advisory will be issued.

Send your photos and video to [email protected]

Check out all Castanet stories on active fires throughout our province here. 



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Dump truck collision fatal

A collision between a dump truck and an SUV claimed the life of a man in Surrey on Saturday.

The crash occurred about 4:30 p.m. on the 17000 block of 32nd Avenue.

The westbound SUV and eastbound dump truck collided, causing heavy damage to the smaller vehicle, and the male driver of the SUV was pronounced deceased at scene. 

​The identity of the man has not been released, and Surrey RCMP say alcohol and speed may have been a factor in the crash. 

The road was closed down for a time Saturday as police investigated the scene.

Anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to call Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477.



Evacuation alert issued

An evacuation alert has been issued for the North Shore outside of Nelson due to a nearby forest fire.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay issued the alert just before 11 pm. Saturday.

It affects residents of the area between Sitkum Creek South and Willow Point (Six Mile Lakes Road) and was issued as a precautionary measure due to erratic wind conditions.

Residents will be notified should conditions worsen.

The fire is located four kilometres north of Kootenay Lake, between Sitkum and Duhamel Creeks and is estimated at 60 hectares in size.

Helicopters and multiple air tanker groups are battling the blaze. 

This fire highly visible from the city of Nelson, surrounding areas and Highway 3A. 

Its cause is under investigation.

Elsehwhere in Southern B.C., DriveBC reports Highway 93 is closed in both directions from the Montana border to the junction with Highway 3 in Elko because of another forest fire.

A 28.5-hectare fire is also burning south of Ashcroft in the Venables Valley area.

It started Saturday and is believed to be human caused.



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Gunfire in Surrey

Police say more shots were fired in Surrey early this morning.

About 3 a.m., RCMP received reports of shots fired on the 8300 block of 128th Street.

Officers located evidence consistent with shots being fired in the area, however, no injuries were reported.

Police are currently investigating and canvassing the neighbourhood for further information.

Sgt. Tom Thompson said officers are still trying to determine if the incident is linked to any of the previous shootings that have occurred in Surrey and Delta as a low-level turf war continues in the Lower Mainland's drug trade.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or www.solvecrime.ca.



RCMP shoot suspect

The Independent Investigations Office of BC confirms it is sending investigators to the Sicamous and Salmon Arm area after being notified of an incident involving the RCMP.

According to the RCMP and the information reported to the IIO, at approximately 5 p.m.Friday, officers were responding to a complaint of an armed robbery at a gas station involving an adult male (the affected person) near Sicamous. The affected person reportedly fled the scene in a vehicle.

A short time later, the vehicle was located in Canoe, just outside of Salmon Arm. Officers set up a perimeter and deployed a police service dog and handler to establish a track.

During the search, an officer (s) came into contact with the affected person. The affected person was shot and sustained serious gunshot injuries. An officer was also injured during the confrontation. Both were transported to hospital for medical treatment.

The IIO Team Director,  a Forensic Specialist and several other investigative staff arrived on the scene Saturday.

Preliminary tasks will include identifying and interviewing witnesses as well as clarifying what officers were involved. The IIO Forensic Specialist will work with the RCMP to ensure all physical evidence is collected from the scene.

The RCMP will remain responsible for any concurrent investigation into the actions of the affected person and any other persons involved prior to the incident.

As per the MOU, the RCMP will defer all comments related to the investigation to the IIO; however, due to the preliminary stages of the investigation, information the IIO is able to release is limited. At this time, there will be no further comment on the medical condition of the affected person.

The IIO will not be commenting on the age, gender, years of service or medical condition of the police officer and will defer questions related to the officer to the RCMP.



Fatal collision

A male driver died in a two vehicle collision Saturday afternoon in Surrey.

At approximately 4:30 pm, Surrey RCMP responded to a report of the collision in the 17000 block of
32nd  Avenue.

A red SUV was travelling westbound on 32nd Avenue when it collided with a dump truck that was travelling east bound on 32nd Avenue. The subsequent collision resulted in the SUV sustaining extensive damage.

The driver of the SUV was pronounced dead at the scene.

Alcohol and speed have not been ruled out as contributing factors in this collision. The incident is still under investigation.

Anyone who witnessed this incident or has further information is asked to call the Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502 or Crime Stoppers, if they wish to remain anonymous, at 1-800-222-8477.



Small plane crashes

Two people are in hospital with serious injuries after a small plane crashed at Duncan Airport on Vancouver Island.

RCMP say the single-engine plane crashed into a sloped area near the runway, causing significant damage to the aircraft, at around 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

A 55-year-old male pilot and a 43-year-old female passenger were on board and emergency crews pulled them from the wreckage.

B.C. Emergency Health Services says one patient was taken by air ambulance to Victoria General Hospital, while the other was taken in stable condition by ambulance to Duncan Regional Hospital.

RCMP say both are believed to be residents of southern Vancouver Island and the full extent of their injures is not known at this time.

Investigators say it's too early to speculate on cause but there's no indication that foul play was involved.

North Cowichan and Duncan RCMP remain at the scene and have advised the Transportation Safety Board of the incident.

The Canadian Press


Vying for title of BBQ king

The Similkameen is about to name a new BBQ King.

The annual Similkameen BBQ King event, where featured chefs compete for the title of king or queen, will take place Saturday, July 11.  

"This truly unique Similkameen wine and food experience is a competition where our featured chefs will create unique dishes for you using organic ingredients from local farmers in the heart of Canada's organic capital," said Caroline Cottrill, president of the Similkameen Wineries Association. "Each chef receives an identical basket of ingredients, yet each chef prepares those ingredients into remarkably different dishes.”

The first hour of the event, from 5 to 6 p.m., will feature tastings from Similkameen wineries, with the competition slated to begin at 6 p.m.

“This year, we wanted to really showcase our local restaurants as well, so we added a second competition – a small bites competition," said Cottrill. "Each local chef competing in our small bites competition will also have a winery or cidery paired with them.”

Competing chefs are:

•   Chris Boehm, Burger 55
•   Aden Clarke, Private Chef
•   Kevin Cooper, The Patio at NK’Mip Cellars
•   Jacob Gunn, Wrong Turn Tavern
•   Shayna Merritt, Shayna & Shulman Culinary Adventures
•   Natasha Schooten, The Grist Mill
•   Adair Scott, Watermark Beach Resort
•   Jeff Van Geest, Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek
 

Small bites competing chefs are:

•   Rick from Benja Thai
•   Karl from the Branding Iron
•   Andrew from Tree to Me
 

The event will feature two live entertainment areas. The main entertainment will be John Rousseau and Paul Henbury from The River Line.

There will also be a second entertainment stage this year featuring local entertainers They Them Theirs and Wild Organic Humans.

 “We have made some other great changes this year too. Something Blue Photography will be at the event with a fun photo booth featuring chef hats, BBQ gear and historic clothing from the Grist Mill so that our guests can create a special memory of the evening. We are also excited to feature the addition of local art at our Similkameen BBQ King," said Cottrill.

There will also be a silent auction that is a partial fundraiser for the Grist Mill, which is a Heritage B.C. site. 

Tickets are $90 and can be purchased at any of the member wineries, at the Keremeos Visitor Centre, the Grist Mill, Tree to Me or online at www.SimilkameenWine.com/events.

Complimentary shuttles are available from throughout the Okanagan/Similkameen. Keremeos Taxi has also been hired to do continuous taxi runs to get local guests home safely.

The event is from 5 to 9 p.m. at the historic Grist Mill & Gardens in Keremeos.

 



170 fires rage across BC

Dozens of wildfires burning across British Columbia are forcing residents from their homes, with two communities declaring states of emergency.

Port Hardy Mayor Hank Bood said a state of emergency was issued Saturday morning after a 16-hectare fire caused the evacuation of about 100 residences.

"We're hopeful, but it's still a very volatile situation," he said.

Crews were responding to several new blazes on Saturday as close to 170 wildfires raged across the province. The Squamish Lillooet Regional District also issued a state of emergency due to a 500-hectare fire northwest of Pemberton.

The fire in Port Hardy is extremely unusual, said Bood, as it typically has a wet climate but has not had rain in two months.

He warned residents to obey a campfire ban issued by the B.C. government for the entire province, apart from a two-kilometre strip on Vancouver Island.

"People in the north island need to understand that we are in a very unusual place," he said. "We're not fooling around anymore."

Declaring a state of emergency will allow the district to bill the province for expenses it incurs during the blaze, he added.

The fire is believed to be human-caused. It began Friday night on the Tsulquate River, a heavily timbered area about 1.5 kilometres west of Port Hardy.

Donna MacPherson of the B.C. Wildfire Service said when the fire started, strong winds were blowing sparks into the air, creating a small spot fire in the area about 1 hectare in size.

She said retardant drops completed by air tankers Friday night helped contain the main blaze. On Saturday, crews were working on the edges of the fire and helicopters were dumping large amounts of ocean water.

MacPherson said temperatures are 12 to 18 degrees hotter than they normally are this time of year.

"We're asking anybody: If you see a tree, stop and think," she said. "Think about whatever it is you're doing that might start a forest fire. We don't need any more."

The Squamish Lillooet Regional District issued its state of emergency on Saturday after the Boulder Creek fire about 23 kilometres northwest of Pemberton grew to 500 hectares.

The district also ordered the evacuation of two mines, of which one was inactive, and an independent power project.

Meanwhile on Saturday, an additional 40 firefighters and support staff were brought in to battle a blaze in the Okanagan, bringing the total number of crew members to more than 60.

The blaze prompted the evacuation of 142 homes in the Joe Rich area of Kelowna. Officials said on Saturday the fire was 50 per cent contained and down to 55 hectares from 80.

Highway 33 was open to single-lane alternating traffic through the fire zone but the speed limit was reduced. RCMP set up road blocks at Goudie Road and Cardinal Creek Road to prevent access to the evacuated area.

Crews responded to several new wildfires on Saturday, including one near Blueberry Creek, about one kilometre west of Castlegar. The blaze didn't threaten any structures but was highly visible from the city and Highway 3.

The B.C. Wildfire Service also warned that smoke from two lightning-caused wildfires could drift into the communities of Bella Coola, Houston, Burns Lake, Southside and Francois Lake.

The Kapella River fire had burned about 600 to 1,000 hectares about 77 kilometres northwest of Bella Coola, while the Europa Lake fire had burned about 10 hectares about 86 kilometres southeast of Kitimat.

The Canadian Press


Garbage truck kills woman

A 62-year-old woman is dead after being struck by a garbage truck in Vancouver.

Vancouver Police say the tragic accident happened just before 9 a.m. Saturday.

Const. Brian Montague says a garbage truck turning onto Kingsway Avenue off Broadway collided with a pedestrian crossing the street.

He says police and paramedics were called to the scene but the woman had clearly not survived her injuries.

Montague says the driver of the truck was visibly shaken but is cooperating with officers.

He says it is still early in the investigation and police will be obtaining and examining video to help determine all the factors involved in the crash.

The Canadian Press


State of emergency declared

Dozens of wildfires burning across British Columbia are forcing residents from their homes, with one small Vancouver Island district declaring a state of emergency.

Port Hardy Mayor Hank Bood said a state of emergency was issued on Saturday morning after an 16-hectare fire caused the evacuation of about 100 residences.

"We're hopeful, but it's still a very volatile situation," he said.

Bood said the fire is extremely unusual for Port Hardy, as it typically has a wet climate but has not had rain in two months.

He warned residents to obey the campfire ban that the B.C. government has issued for the entire province, apart from a two-kilometre strip on Vancouver Island.

"People in the north island need to understand that we are in a very unusual place," he said. "We're not fooling around anymore."

Declaring a state of emergency will allow the district to bill the province for expenses it incurs during the blaze, he added.

The fire is believed to be human-caused. It began Friday night on the Tsulaquat River, a heavily timbered area about 1.5 kilometres west of Port Hardy.

Donna MacPherson of the B.C. Wildfire Service said when the fire started, strong winds were blowing sparks into the air, creating a small spot fire in the area about 1 hectare in size.

She said retardant drops completed by air tankers Friday night helped contain the main blaze. On Saturday, crews were working on the edges of the fire and helicopters were dumping large amounts of ocean water on the area.

The B.C. Wildfire Service was bringing in more resources to fight the blaze on Saturday afternoon.

MacPherson said temperatures are 12 to 18 degrees hotter than they normally are this time of year.

"We're asking anybody, if you see a tree, stop and think about what you're doing," she said. "Think about whatever it is you're doing that might start a forest fire. We don't need any more."

More than 150 wildfires are burning in B.C., including a 500-hectare fire about 23 kilometres northwest of Pemberton.

Officials issued an evacuation order on Saturday for both sides of the Upper Lillooet Forest Service Road from 9 kilometer to the top of the Pemberton Valley.

The order affected three industrial operations: two pumice mines and an independent power project. One of the mines was inactive while the other began sending home staff. Some support staff at the power project remained to assist the B.C. Wildfire Service.

Meanwhile on Saturday, an additional 40 firefighters and support staff were brought in to battle a blaze in the Okanagan, bringing the total number of crew members to more than 60.

The 80-hectare blaze has prompted the evacuation of 142 homes in the Joe Rich area of Kelowna.

Highway 33 was open to single-lane alternating traffic through the fire zone but the speed limit was reduced. RCMP set up road blocks at Goudie Road and Cardinal Creek Road to prevent access to the evacuated area.

The B.C. Wildfire Service also warned that smoke from two lightning-caused wildfires could drift into the communities of Bella Coola, Houston, Burns Lake, Southside and Francois Lake.

The Kapella River fire had burned about 600 to 1,000 hectares about 77 kilometres northwest of Bella Coola, while the Europa Lake fire had burned about 10 hectares about 86 kilometres southeast of Kitimat.

 

The Canadian Press


Coquihalla still burns

The fire along the Coquihalla Highway is still burning today, after it shut down highway traffic yesterday. 

The highway is now open to vehicle traffic at a a reduced speed, but the fire is still burning in a 7.5 hectare area.

Crews are presently on scene fighting the blaze. 

BC Wildfire Service urges drivers to pass through the area and not stop to look at the fire, as it is still dangerous. 



Newby fire burns favourably

The large fire burning in the wilderness west of Osoyoos continues to burn today, but is travelling in a favourable direction.

The fire near Newby Lake in the Snowy Protected Area grew 40 hectares yesterday and now sits at approximately 160 hectares. Despite this growth, Kayla Pepper, fire information officer, said it is moving higher into the alpine and towards a rocky, and less fuel-filled area.

“It was actually pushing towards the alpine and self-extinguishing on the south flank,” Pepper said.  “Which is what we were hoping for.”

While crews initially had problems getting to the fire due to the steep terrain, Pepper said a twenty-person team and two helicopters were able to access it early yesterday.

There are currently no crews fighting the fire at this point, as these resources were pulled away and sent to fight the fire in the Joe Rich area. Pepper said they are looking to bring those crews back to the Newby Lake fire today.



Evacuations in Port Hardy

Residents of Port Hardy were evacuated overnight due to wildfire near the northern Vancouver Island community.

The Regional District of Mount Waddington issued an evacuation order for the Mayors Way and Upper Carnarvon area due to the fire being less than 750 metres away.

A reception centre was set up at the local civic centre for affected residents.

Volunteer fire crews and RCMP monitored the fire perimeter overnight, and ground firefighters were expected to return to battling the flames this morning.  

Residents not evacuated have been asked to restrict water use for emergency purposes only to aid the firefighting effort.





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