Haze: With the number of fires burning in B.C.

Haze: With the number of fires burning in B.C.

More than 200 fires burning

Smoke: Ministry issues advisory for most of B.C. As of Wednesday, a no-fire ring around Salmon Arm was intact.

As of Wednesday, a no-fire ring around Salmon Arm was intact.

But the pall of smoke infiltrating the Shuswap resulted in a ‘Smoky Skies Advisory’ from the Ministry of Environment on Aug. 6.

The advisory, covering much of the Southern Interior and the northern portion of the province, notes smoke concentrations vary widely because of winds, fire behaviour and temperature changes.

Thunderstorms that circulated around the Southern Interior over the weekend sparked several fires but gave most of the Shuswap a miss.

“Over the weekend, when we put up Environment Canada radar, you could see all the storms circulating well out of Salmon Arm,” said fire protection officer Larry Osachoff Tuesday morning. “It was just like we were the centre of the storm; it was a very unusual long weekend, the storms were very localized, not the massive systems that usually come through.”

Lightning from an Aug. 2 storm sparked two fires north of Seymour Arm:  one was worked on by a four-person crew for two days and, as of Tuesday, was in the patrol stage. The other remote fire had a five-person crew working on it Monday.

“The fuel type is heavy cedar and hemlock – big heavy wood that burns really well and creates longer mop-up,” says Osachoff.

Wildfire officials cautioned that Salmon Arm’s luck in escaping wildfires this summer could be broken with the possibility of lightning accompanied by very little rain in the forecast for the week.

Wildfire Management Branch officials continue to call for extreme caution, particularly with growing concerns about having insufficient personnel to combat the more than 222 wildfires burning in the province.

In the last month, crews from Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have provided assistance.

And Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson announced Wednesday that a contingent of specialized wildfire personnel from Australia will be coming to B.C. to assist with wildfire response.

About 80 personnel are scheduled to arrive in Vancouver in several groups from Saturday, Aug. 9 through Monday, Aug. 11. Deployed throughout the province based on current and anticipated wildfire activity, the Australians could remain in B.C. for up to five weeks.

Wildfire officials continue to ask people to be vigilant and to report any smoke or fire to  1-800-663-5555 or call *5555 toll free on most cellular networks. Alternately, you can report a wildfire to 9-1-1.