UPDATE: Emergency personnel disagree with decision to re-open Shambhala

Organizers have told people they can stay

The party is back on at the Shambhala Music Festival as organizers have told people they can stay.

While many festival goers have already left, organizers say that the overnight rain was behind the decision.

In a post shared on Facebook late Sunday morning, organizer Jenna Arpita said that the festival will go on. The Salmo River Ranch remains under evacuation alert.

“After hours of meetings and consultation this morning, the Regional District of Central Kootenay, other local government and a fire behavioural analyst, we have been approved for Shambhala Music Festival to remain open for our final night,” she stated. “We invite all our guests to stay and celebrate with us for the final night of our 20th annual Shambhala Music Festival.”

However regional fire Chief Andrew Bellerby said that the RDCK did not approve of the decision to re-open the festival. On Saturday, they had recommended closing the festival a day early.

Shambhala To Close Early

by Ingrid Baetzel, Editor

August 12, 2017, 4pm: The McCormick Fire in the Salmo area is currently sitting at approximately 350 hectares. On Aug 11, the fire took a pretty good run and crossed the Salmo River. Crews are currently on site, including helicopters, planes and ground crew, attending to fuel cells and difficult situations.

Image result for mccormick fire salmo shambhala

Due to the change in the fire direction, 39 properties in the Nelway area were put under evacuation order and the US/Canada border crossing was closed.

This evacuation order triggered putting Shambhala on emergency alert, which happened on the morning of Aug 12.

Image result for mccormick fire salmo shambhala

As a result of meetings of key organisers and responders on the afternoon of August 12, it was agreed that the festival would shut down a day earlier. Saturday night (Aug 12) will be final night and Sunday night will not run. Festival goers are being encouraged to evacuate the premises by Sunday morning as the grounds shut down. 

Jimmy Bundschuh, Shambahala organiser, spoke about the worsening fire situation and the difficult decision to notify guests to depart the site Sunday morning. “Our hope is that our guests get prepared today, get packed before getting to bed tonight and are well rested for a safe exit tomorrow morning,” said Bundschuh.

When Bundschuh was asked about the financial impact of this change to the festival plans, he commented that it would have a huge impact for festival. He stated that the many craft and food vendors would be losing out considerably. Sunday sales for locals will not occur as they normally do. He said, “I estimate that we’re looking at least at a half million in lost revenue. This is a major decision on our part and we are trusting the team in charge that this is warranted. Public safety is number one priority.”

Travelers should expect a considerable increase in traffic on area roads and the Kootenay Lake Ferry over the next two days or so and those intending to go to the festival for Sunday only should know that there will be no performances after Saturday night.


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