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

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Update: Highway 3 reopened following rockslide near Keremeos

The slide occurred Friday March 22, at about 8 p.m. between Red Bridge and Standing Rock

Active burn pile prompts firefighter response in Salmon Arm

Reports of residential fire, thick smoke was from burning construction material

Rock slide forces rural Keremeos residents to leave their homes

Witness describes boulders bigger than her car

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: goodbye sun, hello rain

Environement Canada forcasts clouds and rain for the weekend and beyond

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Okanagan woman launches sewing studio

“I know there’s a lot of people up and down the valley that would love to sew.”

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

Former Okanagan teen found safe after disappearing from YVR airport

Ethan Burnett, 14, was found safe in Kelowna on March 22

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Vernon road closed again following landslide

The road that was reopened Thursday morning was closed again Friday following geotechnical engineer report.

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

Most Read