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A view of the Revelstoke Mountain Resort. An avalanche occured near Revelstoke, on Boulder Mountain, killing three people March 13, 2010.

Jeff Bassett

CTV news is reporting that an avalanche near Revelstoke, B.C. has killed three people.

Two people have been critically injured, as well as seven with serious injuries and eight people are reported to have minor injuries.

The avalanche occured while 200 people were attending the annual snowmobiling event, the Big Iron Shootout on Boulder Mountain. All people have been cleared off the mountain, according to CTV.

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A large-scale search and rescue operation was underway in southwestern B.C. Saturday night after an avalanche killed at least one person and injured 12.

Some 200 people were attending the annual Big Iron Shootout on Boulder Mountain, near Revelstoke, when the slide occurred Saturday afternoon.

Adam Burke, 20, a member of the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club, said his mother and many of his friends were up there at the time, but his mother was OK.

Burke said he chose not to go, because of the high-risk conditions in the mountains this weekend.

"Today it was high risk and just the other day it was extreme," he told The Canadian Press in a telephone interview.

"I told everyone to shut the mountain down. ... Just how I've been riding and I've noticed a lot of slab avalanches and I've caused a lot of little stuff over the season and it's just progressively gotten worse.

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"I told my mom to shut it down and don't have anything to do with this event because it's going to kick you in the ass."

Search and rescue teams, including helicopters and avalanche rescue dogs called in from around B.C. and Calgary worked to rescue those caught in the slide.

"You've got a variety of emergency assets, everything ranging from your Revelstoke search and rescue to provincial emergency programs," Cpl Dan Moskaluk said.

"There's air assets in the form of helicopters ... RCMP police dogs, services dogs, avalanche trained dogs, a variety of machines and people, essentially it's a large scale rescue that's being co-ordinated."

Kathy Berlingette, owner of Smokey Bear Campground Resort in the area, said the event was in a remote place and everyone involved had to drive their snowmobiles out to get there.

"One fellow that I was talking to said that it resembled a war zone," Ms. Berlingette said in a telephone interview.

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"The audience was below this large mountain, there's a whole group of people watching the snowmobiles go up the hill and an avalanche broke through," said Belingette, who wasn't there but had guests who did take part.

All five of her guests were fine, she said, and were helping in the recovery effort.

"They're all very shook up, there was three fatalities. There was parents took children up there to watch this event," Ms. Belingette said.

"The avalanche was about 25 or 30 feet deep, covered about a half a kilometre in distance, it was a very big one."

The Canadian Avalanche Centre issued an avalanche warning for the South Columbia region, which includes Revelstoke, for Saturday and Sunday, after a powerful storm blanketed the region with snow.

"This is the first real snow storm we've experienced in months. Saturday and Sunday are forecast to be blue sky days. Recognize that blue sky weather and pow have a way of twisting our thoughts causing us to make poor decisions. Right now is when consistent good decision making really counts in the mountains," the centre warned on its website.

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Greg Johnson, from the avalanche centre, said at the time that there was danger that the snow would overload weak layers in the upper snowpack.

Revelstoke Mayor David Raven told CTV Newsnet that the gathering was an unsanctioned event.

"The Canadian Avalanche Centre based in Revelstoke has had a warning for the last three weeks expressing extreme caution in the backcountry, a fresh snowfall overnight exacerbated that warning, I know people have been cautioned again and again," Mr. Raven said.

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