Okanagan smoke may linger for a few days

If you were out today, you probably tasted the smoke in the air. The Washington State wildfires have caused massive amounts of heavy smoke to come across the border.

READ MORE: Smoke brings B.C. air quality advisories

“You expect a certain amount of [smoke] but it’s quite shocking really,” says Osoyoos resident Jennifer Farnell.

The haze is covering valley views for locals and tourists.

“It was beautiful [on Saturday] but then it just rolled in and it got pretty bad [Saturday] night,” says Chris Wilson, a Vancouver resident visiting the Okanagan this weekend.
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For some people, like Farnell, the smoke is also hard on the body.

However, that didn’t stop Farnell from going out for a walk with her dog in Oliver today. It also didn’t stop dozens of players from taking part in a baseball camp in Oliver.

“My boys have been at the baseball camp for about a week or so and it’s been like campfire atmosphere the whole time so our clothes are a bit smoky and our hair is a bit smokey,” says Kerri Chard, a Powell River resident who is visiting in Oliver.

Saturday morning, Interior Health issued a Smoky Skies advisory for the Okanagan Valley, leaving many wondering where the haze came from in the first place.

But Fire Information Officer Heather Rice confirms that the smoke is a result of fires in Washington State.

READ MORE: Hazy skies in parts of B.C. as smoke drifts across border from Washington State wildfires

Rice says on Saturday, southerly winds picked up smoke from the Stickpin fire, which is estimated to be 19,240 hectares.

The smoke in the valley is affecting the wildfire fight near Oliver, as helicopters helping to battle blazes were grounded Sunday due to the thick smoke.

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“We cannot have air support, it’s too dangerous, we’ll have to be extra vigilant on our fire lines because the visibility on the fire line is also compromised with this type of smoke,” says Rice.

Rice says this is some of the thickest smoke she has seen in the valley and many residents agree.

“It’s the smokiest I’ve ever seen it, absolutely,” says Farnell.

Residents are advised to expect varying levels of smoke for the next few days.


View of the Okanagan lake from Peachland. Tiffaney Simonson
The view from West Kelowna. Sheilagh Rowe
A smoky sunset in Penticton on Aug. 22, 2015. Bruce Merit
The view near Osoyoos Lakes on Aug. 23, 2015. Lori Rand
A view of the haze in Kelowna.

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