A wildfire discovered west of Princeton, B.C., Sunday evening forced the evacuation of a nearby music festival, according to local officials.
The Rice Road wildfire, located approximately 12 kilometres from Princeton and four kilometres from Coalmont, was estimated at around 16 hectares in size and classified as out of control as of Monday morning.
Princeton Mayor Spencer Coyne said concerns over the blaze prompted a tactical evacuation of a music festival with hundreds of attendees, as well as a forestry campsite and some nearby properties.
“There was an estimated 500 tickets sold to that event, so that sped things up a little bit,” Coyne told CTV News.
Staff procured a large bus from the Princeton Posse junior hockey team to help festival attendees evacuate, but Coyne said the vast majority of people left the area on their own.
“There was a steady stream of traffic leaving the area,” he said. “By 1:30 in the morning we had everybody out. That’s a pretty fast evacuation when you consider how many people were out there.”
Coyne said he believes the impacted festival was Under the Stars, a four-night event that began on Thursday. A note on the event’s Facebook page warns there are “no refunds due to natural disasters or B.C. government closures or pandemics.”
The B.C. Wildfire Service website lists the suspected cause of the Rice Road blaze as “humans or human activity.” A social media post from a provincial emergency management employee suggested the flames were sparked by an all-terrain vehicle.
The fire started several kilometres away from the music festival site, according to officials.
No structures were threatened Monday morning and there were 29 firefighters battling the blaze with support from two helicopters and multiple air tankers, according to the BCWS.
Meanwhile, evacuation orders and alerts remain in place for the Eagle Bluff blaze burning west of Osoyoos, as does a local state of emergency for Electoral Areas “A” and “B.”
The latest details on local evacuations are available on the RDOS website.
With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Lauren Pullen