Downton Lake wildfire: ‘Persistent bear activity’ forces wildfire crews to leave B.C. campsite, officials say


“Persistent bear activity” forced fire crews to leave a camp in British Columbia, Canada, authorities said Thursday.

The camp near the community of Gold Bridge housed crews working on the Downton Lake wildfire, which was reported July 13 and has consumed more than 9,000 acres, according to the British Columbia Forest Fire Service.

“I think the bear wanted to help us in the line of fire,” said the Dashwood Fire Department wrote on social media, sharing a video of a bear wandering near the camp.

Due to bear activity, approximately 160 staff members have been relocated to the Town of Lillooet, where they are being hosted by the T’it’q’et First Nation and Municipality of Lillooet facilities while they are fighting the flames, firefighters said.

“This was necessary to ensure the safety of staff following continued bear activity in and around the camp,” firefighters said.

Nature conservation officers are assessing and advising a safe return to the campsite, the firefighters added.

Firefighters have been battling the Downton Lake wildfire for weeks, which forced evacuations as it spread and continues to burn out of control, according to firefighters. The area is about 100 miles (about 161 km) north of Vancouver.

“Rainfall fell on the fire overnight and Thursday morning, with further amounts expected throughout the day. Fire activity remains low on the two Bendor Range Complex wildfires,” firefighters said Thursday.

The fire is one of approximately 420 active wildfires burning across the province amid Canada’s unprecedented fire season, according to the British Columbia Wildfire Service.

Experts had warned that the numerous wildfires ravaging vast swathes of wild lands from coast to coast across Canada will likely displace, injure and kill local wildlife.

“Wildlife will be displaced. Many animals will also die because of the fires,” Angelika Langen, executive director of the Northern Lights Wildlife Society, told CNN affiliate CTV in Canada.

British Columbia is considered “bear country,” where black bears and grizzly bears wander.

An orphaned and injured bear cub was rescued from a wildfire-ravaged area in the Shuswap region of British Columbia on Thursday.

The bear cub suffered burns to its paws, but is expected to make a full recovery, according to the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service.

The calf’s sibling was seriously injured in the fire and was shot, the conservation office said, while the sow is believed to have died in the fire.

“Although unfortunately the cub was orphaned, its survival is good news for the Secwepemc community and conservation officers, who care for wildlife injured by wildfires,” the conservation office said.


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