Will Johnson/Nelson Star photo

Will Johnson/Nelson Star photo

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

Organizers have told people they can stay

Even an encroaching wildfire couldn’t snuff out the party known as the Shambhala Music Festival as organizers reconsidered a previous decision to cancel Sunday’s lineup.

While many festival goers had already left, organizers said that the overnight rain was behind the decision to allow party goers to stay.

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

“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.

“It’s entirely up to those guys. It’s a private function and they’ve made their own decision due to their own risk assessment,” said Bellerby. “The rain has cooled the wildfire down in BC Wildfire [Service’s] opinion but there is a wildfire burning in the area.”

Organizer Britz Robbins said improved conditions made staff feel confident that re-opening the festival was a safe choice.

“Yesterday, we were facing high winds and erratic behaviour of the fire,” Robbins said. “We have damp cool, cool weather that had downgraded the threat of the fire moving closer to the Salmo River Ranch property.”

RCMP spokesperson Dawn Roberts said that the police were in constant communication with festival organizers.

“We’re aware of the decision for the festival to continue [Sunday],” said Roberts. “We have plans in place to support based on fire activity.”

Ed Miska, executive director of engineering services at the transportation, noted that there is “a robust traffic control” plan in place for Shambhala. Roberts said that so far, all indications are that those leaving are doing so in an orderly fashion.

Approximately 17,000 attended the annual event just south of Salmo and about eight kilometres from the McCormick Creek wildfire.