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 the festival or attendees, but they decided to end early after consulting with local government.
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.
Festival founder and owner Jimmy Bundschuh said earlier Saturday his team has been working with the regional district and communicating with attendees to ensure they're ready for an early departure.
"The key will be to have people prepared and ready for it," Bundschuh said.
"That's our big goal right now is just to update our guests and make sure that whatever comes will not be a surprise to anybody."
There is only one road connecting the festival site to the highway. Bundschuh said his team was working to install a dedicated pedestrian bridge to increase throughput.
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.
In a release, the regional district says the fire has grown to 250 hectares in size and is "behaving unpredictably."
The district also issued an evacuation order for the nearby Nelway area, which includes 38 homes and the Nelway border crossing into the United States.
Another evacuation order expanded
Meanwhile, the residents of dozens of homes north of Kamloops have been ordered to leave because of the massive Elephant Hill wildfire. That blaze is now 124,843 hectares in size.
The evacuation order for that blaze was expanded Saturday afternoon to include the Bonaparte and Criss Creek areas.
For complete details about evacuation orders and alerts across the province, visit the EmergencyInfoBC website.
With files from Natasha Frakes.