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Wildfire devastates community of Monte Lake; Kamloops on high alert as blaze edges closer

Hundreds of properties in communities to the east and west of Monte Lake were already under evacuation order
A structure is seen engulfed in flames in Monte Lake Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021. (Facebook)

Another B.C. community has been devastated by a raging wildfire and more could be at risk from a blaze burning rapidly between Kamloops and Vernon.

Ken Gillis, chairman of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, says he has been advised that damage is extensive in the community of Monte Lake and through the nearby Paxton Valley.

The 325-square-kilometre White Rock Lake wildfire jumped Highway 97 about 40 kilometres southeast of Kamloops late Thursday.

An official with the BC Wildfire Service has confirmed further growth of the blaze is expected, and a statement from the service says winds gusting up to 40 kilometres per hour are expected through the day.

Hundreds of properties in communities to the east and west of Monte Lake were already under evacuation order, but further evacuation orders were issued by the regional district overnight, and the City of Kamloops has placed residents in several of its southeastern neighbourhoods on evacuation alert.

The city activated its Emergency Operations Centre at 8:30 p.m. due to the White Rock Lake fire burning fire southeast of the city and the Tremont Creek wildfire southwest of the city. Some are under evacuation alerts for the the latter fire, in the Tobiano area.

Meanwhile, a mix of sun and cloud is expected in the region with just a 30 per cent chance of showers this morning. While some of the Interior is expected to see light showers Saturday night, officials are wary it won’t be enough to combat the raging fires through the region.

It was just over one month ago that a wildfire raced through the village of Lytton, killing two people, destroying most of the community and causing an estimated $78 million in damage.

The wildfire service says nearly 300 fires are currently burning in B.C., and just over 5,800 square kilometres have been charred since the start of the wildfire season on April 1.

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