Smoky skies for today in the Okanagan and Shuswap

Inversion layer trapping wildfire smoke

Gray, smoky and drizzly appears to be the order of the day throughout the communities of the Kamloops Fire Centre.

“The first thing people are seeing right now when they wake up, and smelling, is the smoke that has come in. A lot of that has to do with the change in weather we are seeing right now,” said Rachel Wirth, fire information officer with B.C. WIldfire. “The smoke is really socked in throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre. It induces a bit of an eerie feeling that there could be fire nearby.”

The heavy smoke is also affecting BCWS operations, in some cases, preventing helicopters from flying and accurate mapping for fires.

Lightning throughout Saturday sparked 40 new fires in the Kamloops fire centre; 27 of those are believed to be lightning at this time.

A few are still under investigation, but it’s likely, according to Wirth, that others will also be classed as lightning caused. Most, 36, are estimated to be spot-sized, less than 0.01 hectares. That’s very small, Wirth said, and typical in the kind of lightning storms the region experienced yesterday.

“We did know it was coming and we prioritized an initial attack response, so we could make sure we could get crews on those fires while they were that small,” said Wirth.

The layers of smoke are making it hard to estimate the size of fires such as the Juliet Creek fire, discovered Wednesday southwest of Merritt and last estimated at 600 hectares. The last update from BCWS says the fire is expected to grow, partly due to a more accurate estimate of the perimeter when they can better map it

“We can’t assess much from the air at this point, because of the smoke,” said Wirth. “It’s a bit doom and gloomy out there be out there right now.

“We should get some lighter winds today, which is good. A lot of places where we did experience heavy lightning yesterday, it was accompanied by precipitation, so that was good.”

The largest fire in the region, Snowy Mountain in the Similkameen, continues to grow slowly and is estimated at 13,359 hectares. It is still considered out of control, but the nearby Placer Mountain fire is classified as under control at 2,372 hectares.

While winds grounded helicopters yesterday, fire information officer Noelle Kekula said, the fire didn’t expand towards towns in the air.

The fire danger rating is still high to extreme and Wirth reminds people to be cautious.

“These crews need to go out to those Lightning-caused fires, not to human-caused fires that are preventable,” said Wirth.


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
Email me or message me on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Just Posted

“We are extremely lucky that it wasn’t a fatality”

Four passengers received minor injuries, and a driver was charged, in a… Continue reading

Okanagan water board seeks mussels funding

Okanagan Basin Water Board sends request to new federal fisheries minister

Highway 3A pot plant pulls application

A controversial cannabis production facility has withdrawn an application

Snowy Mountain fire travelling away from communities

The Snowy Mountain fire near Keremeos remains at 13,359 hectares in size

Man dies in Penticton RCMP custody

An independent investigation is underway after a man died while in Penticton police custody Aug. 16

Happy birthday Boler: An anniversary gathering of the cutest campers in Winnipeg

Hundreds of the unique trailers in Winnipeg to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Manitoba invention

Tim Hortons says its China expansion will include menu with congee, matcha

Coffee chain plans to open 1,500 stores in Asia over the next decade

How to help B.C. wildfire victims

Donations being taken by many organizations, BC Hydro waiving bills

Whole city of Kimberley on an evacuation alert due to wildfires

Residents woke up Friday morning being told to get ready to leave any moment

Feds to allow charities to engage in political, but not partisan, activity

The plan is to allow charities to pursue political activities

Trump suggests Canada has been sidelined from latest NAFTA negotiations

Canadian officials have insisted they’re unfazed by being left out of the discussions

B.C. judge who cried during a victim statement to rule on recusing herself

The judge will decide if she’ll disqualify herself from sentencing a man for sexual assault

Photographer files complaint with police after alleged assault on the job

Toronto photographer says he was attacked while covering a protest

Publication ban lifted on details about Fredericton shooting that killed 4

Judge lifts publication ban on court documents related to the Fredericton shooting

Most Read