Show can’t go on at B.C. music festival in face of wildfire threat
SaLMO, B.C. — a wildfire has forced a popular music festival in southern British Columbia to end early and organizers say the decision will be a costly one.
Organizers for the Shambhala Music Festival said Saturday afternoon that the flames aren’t threatening the festival or attendees, but they made a decision to cancel Sunday’s entertainment after consulting with local government.
Music was to go on as scheduled Saturday, but people are being asked to prepare to leave the site on Sunday morning.
Festival founder Jimmy Bundschuh said organizers had a difficult choice to make. “I obviously have mixed emotions about what’s going on,” he said. “you’re always trying to balance your decisions to make sure you’re making the right decisions to protect people.”
the Regional district of Central Kootenay issued an evacuation alert Saturday morning after the BC Wildfire Service reported that flames had crossed the Salmo River and were heading toward Salmo, B.C., where the festival is being held.
andrew Bellerby with the Regional district of Central Kootenay said officials have been working with festival organizers since the fire sparked Wednesday and extensive planning was done in the background in case an evacuation became necessary.
“any kind of emergency planning precautions we’ve put forward, the Shambhala festival organizers have put in place immediately,” he said.
this year marked the festival’s 20th anniversary and organizers said about 15,000 people attended. Music was scheduled to play until at least 6:30 a.m. Monday, with attendees packing up and leaving the site later that day.
about $500,000 in revenue will be lost with Shambhala ending early, Bundschuh said.
“this is going to be a huge impact for the festival,” he said.
getting so many people out of the area does present “some elevated concern,” said Chris duffy with Emergency Management BC, but staff from the department have been email@example.com helping festival organizers develop contingency plans.
Fire information officer Karlie Shaughnessy said the fire, dubbed the McCormick Creek fire, was burning about 9 km away from the festival site Saturday afternoon.
thirty-seven firefighters, four helicopters and six pieces of heavy equipment were being used to fight the 3.5-squarekilometre blaze.