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Shambhala music festival to close early because of B.C. wildfires

B.C.’s Shambhala Music Festival is ending early after the grounds were placed under evacuation alert because of a nearby wildfire.

Organizers of the electronic music festival in B.C.’s Southern Interior announced Saturday afternoon that all acts planned for Sunday had been cancelled. They said there is no threat to attendees, but are recommending people leave Sunday morning.

“It’ll take quite a few hours to get all the guests out, so right now we’re asking people to pack their items and prepare for departing tomorrow,” festival founder and owner Jimmy Bundschuh told CBC News on Saturday.

The festival is held at the Salmo River Ranch, near Nelson, 650 kilometres east of Vancouver. Organizers said about 15,000 people are in attendance, plus 2,000 staff. About 80 performances had been scheduled for Sunday.

Bundschuh said refunds will not be offered, estimating that about $500,000 in revenue would be lost by ending the festival early.

“I’m okay with it. It would be a nightmare if we had panic on site and if we were under real pressure to get it evacuated faster than we safely can,” he said.

Pls note: #Shambhala2017 festival is on #evacuation alert, NOT order. Details from RD Central Kootenay https://t.co/bb79jIpAM1#BCwildfire

@EmergencyInfoBC

Shambhala music festival

The Shambhala Music Festival, held near Salmo, B.C., is now under evacuation alert as a nearby wildfire continues to grow unpredictably. (CBC)

There is only one road connecting the festival site to the highway, but organizers installed a pedestrian bridge Saturday to help people get out of the site.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay issued the evacuation alert Saturday morning, saying the McCormick Creek wildfire had jumped the Salmo River and was moving toward the festival.

By Saturday afternoon, the Southeast Fire Centre said crews had dealt with the spot fire that had jumped the river, but said the fire is still out of control and the alert still remains in place for the festival.

The alert means people in the area must be ready to leave if the district gives an evacuation order.

The regional district has said the fire has grown to 350 hectares in size and is “behaving unpredictably.”

The district also issued an evacuation order for the nearby Nelway area, which includes 39 properties and the Nelway border crossing into the United States.

More evacuation orders issued

Meanwhile, a handful of evacuation orders and alerts were issued for other parts of the province on Saturday.

That included evacuation orders for dozens of homes north of Kamloops because of the massive Elephant Hill wildfire, which is now 124,843 hectares in size.

More than 6,400 people remain out of their homes in B.C. For complete details about evacuation orders and alerts across the province, visit the EmergencyInfoBC website.

With files from Natasha Frakes.


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