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'Get your grab-and-go bags ready': Evacuation alert issued for B.C. island due to wildfire

The Strathcona Regional District issued the evacuation alert just before midnight Thursday, warning people in the Owen Bay region of Sonora Island to be ready to flee at a moment’s notice. (Google Maps) The Strathcona Regional District issued the evacuation alert just before midnight Thursday, warning people in the Owen Bay region of Sonora Island to be ready to flee at a moment’s notice. (Google Maps)
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Residents and tourists on one of British Columbia’s Discovery Islands are under an evacuation alert as a raging wildfire threatened homes on Sonora Island Friday.

The Strathcona Regional District issued the evacuation alert just before midnight Thursday, warning people in the Owen Bay region of the island to be ready to flee at a moment’s notice.

“When an evacuation alert is issued, this is the time to get prepared to leave your home on short notice,” the regional district said in the alert. “Get your grab-and-go bags ready (which should include several days of clothing, toiletries and medications), your emergency plan, copies of important documents and important mementos.”

By Friday afternoon, the regional district said firefighting conditions had been favourable through the morning as winds had subsided. Four helicopters, a fire response boat and 17 provincial firefighters battled the flames Friday, alongside local volunteers.

“We cannot speak highly enough of the residents that came together for the initial response in an organized and caring fashion to protect their community,” the district said in a statement.

The district advised that the evacuation alert would remain in place "until further notice."

BC Wildfire Service personnel were expected to stay on Sonora Island overnight Friday, and would remain throughout the weekend to manage the fire, according to the regional district.

The fire was discovered early Thursday evening and involved at least one structure, according to the BC Wildfire Service. By Friday morning, the fire had grown to three hectares.

Authorities are asking tourists to avoid coming to the area, which is only accessible by boat or float plane, so that vehicles can remain available to officials and to residents in the event they are needed to evacuate.

“We are pleading that citizens avoid coming to the area to allow resources to operate safely,” the district said.

Strathcona Regional District director Jim Abram says there are approximately 30 homes in the area affected by the evacuation alert.

The area is also home to the Sonora Resort wilderness retreat, which was safe from the blaze Friday afternoon, a spokesperson confirmed.

The alert currently applies to the area south of Hyacinth Lake and Dorr Lake.

Owen Bay is approximately 30 kilometres north of Campbell River.

Future updates are expected to come from the BC Wildfire Service, said the Strathcona Regional District on Friday afternoon.

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