Steve Hubrecht

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A wildfire began burning in the Columbia Valley earlier today. 

As of press time flames were raging on the east slope of Mount Bruce, clearly visible from Invermere, Radium Hot Springs and other communities. 

The fire was discovered at 3:15 p.m. on Monday, July 24, just seven kilometres north of Panorama Mountain Resort. By 5 p.m. the blaze had sent up large clouds of smoke, which as of late afternoon has begun to fill the western and northern skies of the valley.

The B.C. Wildfire Service did not immediately return calls from the Pioneer, but does list the blaze as a wildfire of note, giving its size as 70 hectares, and listing the suspected cause as lightning or other natural causes. The listing of lightning as a possible cause comes despite more than a week without a storm in the vicinity of Mount Bruce or indeed anywhere in the Columbia Valley. 

Mount Bruce is a popular hiking area, and rumours flew around the valley on Monday that the fire had spread so quickly that hikers had been trapped, unable to return to their vehicles and needed to be rescued, but these rumours could not be confirmed.

(Photo by Taylor Ruault)