Residents of the South Okanagan and Lower Similkameen awoke to a smoky pall hanging over their respective valleys on Friday, September 14 as wildfires burn in Washington State and the remains of a wildfire continued to burn in the Keremeos area.
The wildfire began around 7:30 p.m. on September 13, apparently after a mower struck a rock and sparked some dry grass.
According to a Keremeos firefighter, the blaze caused some anxious moments, racing up the steep slope of Pincushion Mountain.
Fortunately for the Keremeos department and about 22 personnel from the BC Forest Service, light winds and low fuel loads on the mountain’s rocky slopes helped crews keep the blaze in check.
Michaela Swan , B.C. Fire Information Officer with B.C. Forest Service said that the fire burned in grass and sage and displayed aggressive surface fire behaviour, rating it a Rank Two, vigorous suface fire.
In addition to forestry’s 22 firefighters, one dozer and one water truck also attended the scene.
Friday morning a new forestry crew replaced the initial crew, who currently have the fire 50 per cent contained. A helicopter was brought in for a brief period Friday morning, and the latest mapping imagery showed the fire at 16.5 hectares on Friday afternoon.
The homes near the wildfire were not imminently threatened.
Keremeos firefighters worked the fire until early Friday morning, leaving the scene around 1 p.m. By Friday morning, a small amount of smoke could be seen emanating from a small stand of pine trees a few hundred metres above Herder’s vineyard. A small forestry crew could be seen performing mop up.
By Monday morning, September 17, Swan reported that a “three pack” of firefighters continued to work the fire, in patrol mode. A few hot spots had been worked over the weekend, and patrolling will continue at least until a further scan of the area is taken in the coming week.
“There was a great response from local and forestry firefighters on this event,” Swan said, advising once again for residents to be careful with fire, as the fire danger rating remains high in the Lower Similkameen. Unseasonably warm and sunny weather is expected to continue through the coming week.
No structures were involved in the fire, nor has there been any crop damage reported.