Show can’t go on at B.C. mu­sic fes­ti­val in face of wild­fire threat

Calgary Sun - - NEWS - — The Cana­dian Press

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 al­smith@post­ 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.

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