The Okanagan Mountain fire of 2003 destroyed more than 26

Fire risk escalates in South Okanagan

Hot and dry conditions in the South Okanagan have increased the risk of wildfires this summer.

Hot and dry conditions in the South Okanagan have increased the risk of wildfires this summer.

So far, the Penticton Fire Zone, which includes Summerland, has had 12 wildfires since April 1, destroying a total of 67 hectares.

The 10-year average for this time of year is 33 fires, destroying 179 hectares.

Kayla Pepper, fire information officer with the Kamloops Fire Centre, said the fire risk near Summerland is high near the lake and moderate elsewhere, although the risk is rising.

“We are beginning to see conditions changing in the area,” she said. We have seen some record-breaking temperatures in July, which caused the fuel danger rating to escalate.”

Wind is also a factor in the risk of fires, she said.

Normally, half the wildfires in the region are caused by human activity and half are caused by nature, such as lightning activity.

This year, lightning activity has been low and all the fires so far have been caused by people.

To reduce the risk of fires, campers are urged to build small campfires, no greater than half a metre wide and half a metre tall. They should also have at least eight litres of water nearby and the tools necessary to put out a fire.

Fires can also spread quickly in windy conditions.

All-terrain vehicle operators should take care when they are in nature since the heat from their vehicle exhausts can ignite dry grasses.

Smokers should make sure their cigarettes are completely extinguished

Those who see wildfires or non-compliant behaviour which could result in a wildfire should call 1-800-663-5555 or *555 on most cellular networks.