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

More smoggy air for the Okanagan

Breathing conditions are improving, though still not ideal

BC Wildfire crew rescues lost puppies

They were just leaving the Monashee Complex of fires when they found the cutest creatures.

Okanagan’s smoke filled skies toxic to pets

Pet owners should take extra precautions with pets until smoke dissipates

Smoke cancels Super League Penticton, organizers give pros a gift

Super League Penticton organizers decide to send all pro competitors to championship

Smoky skies means stay inside, according to Interior Health

The air quality in the Okanagan is considered a high risk

Trudeau formally announces he’ll run again in 2019

PM Justin Trudeau gears up to run in next year’s election

Smoke from B.C. wildfires prompts air quality advisories across Western Canada

A massive cloud of smoke hangs over B.C. and Alberta due to wildfires

Pope on sex abuse: “We showed no care for the little ones”

In response to the Pennsylvania report, Francis labeled the misconduct “crimes”

Ottawa announces $189M to extend employment insurance for seasonal workers

The pilot project provides seasonal workers with up to five more weeks of benefits

Trump rages on Mueller following Times report

Trump takes to Twitter calling Robert Mueller “disgraced and discredited”

Strikers head to lottery corp offices

Striking casino workers urging BCLC to investigate Gateways operations

Canadians fear for relatives trapped amid flooding in Indian state of Kerala

More than 800,000people have been displaced by floods and landslides

IndyCar driver Wickens flown to hospital after scary crash

IndyCar said Wickens was awake and alert as he was taken to a hospital

Most Read