A bushfire just east of the Canadian Rockies International Airport in Cranbrook, BC, caused flights to be canceled Monday, with the local First Nation evacuating some of its members.
The BC Forest Fire Service (BCWS) says the St. Mary’s River Wildfire is estimated to be burning in an area of one square kilometer as of 7 p.m. PT and was likely caused by Downed power lines in the area.
It led to the evacuation of around 50 homes in the ʔaq̓am (St. Mary’s Indian Band) community on Monday night, according to its chief, Joe Pierre.
“We had a very, very windy day here today,” Pierre told CBC’s guest host Brady Strachan. west radius. “I got information that there were some power lines down just before, like maybe 10 minutes before, I got the call that there was a fire.”
Pierre said completely dry conditions in the area, accompanied by gusty winds, caused the fire to spread and the community told some of its residents to leave.
“It’s really affecting what we locally call the lower end of the reserve,” he said. “The St. Mary’s River lies between the fire and the city of Cranbrook itself.
“Then north of that there are some farms and so forth, but we don’t have any immediate concerns for the city of Cranbrook or the Kimberley.”
All scheduled flights to and from the Canadian Rockies International Airport have been canceled until further notice due to a wildfire that started today (July 17, 2023). Call your airline for more information if you are traveling today. #Cranbrook pic.twitter.com/fAYASL5xLD
The BCWS says high winds are challenging crews in the area, who are being supported by helicopters and air tankers.
Pierre says the fire is likely to be highly visible to residents of Cranbrook, a community of around 27,000 residents in southeast BC.
The city said the city’s airport, which typically operates flights to Calgary and Vancouver and served just under 38,000 people in the last quarter of 2022, would have flights canceled until further notice.
“Call your airline for more information if traveling today,” read a tweet from the city.