August 8, 2018 3:55 pm
Updated: August 8, 2018 4:08 pm

Smoke from Washington, Similkameen, Okanagan blanketing Southern Interior

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Smoky skies in the Okanagan seem to have visitors and residents seemingly thinking the same thing: Where is all this smoke coming from?

As it turns out, fires burning south of the border have combined with wildfires in the Okanagan and Similkameen to create smoky skies from Osoyoos to Salmon Arm.

READ MORE: Haze over Manitoba caused by smoke from B.C and Alberta wildfires

The website firesmoke.ca shows smoke patterns from wildfires across North America, though its main focus is Canada. The website shows daily, radar-like smoke patterns plus projections for the next 48 hours as well.

“The smoke is from our fires, but it’s also coming up from northern Washington (state) and the Princeton areas into the valleys around here,” said B.C. Wildfire Service information officer Rosalie MacAulay.

In the Okanagan, the biggest wildfire is the Goode’s Creek in Okanagan Mountain Park, but that blaze is classified as under control. West and north of Vernon, though, are several fires.

A smoke-filled sunrise over Skaha Lake.

Carrie Richards

Story continues below

The Harris Creek Forest Service Road wildfire is listed at 260 hectares, the Sugar Mountain wildfire is 170 hectares and the Mabel Creek wildfire is 200 hectares. BCWS considers these fires to be out of control.

READ MORE: Wildfire smoke socks in Calgary

“(For those three fires), we have been experiencing active fire behaviour, especially in the afternoon because of the winds and the slope,” said MacAulay. “We have a lot of terrain in that area and we expect the fire to increase this afternoon.

“It’s remaining to be sunny and dry, and the winds aren’t going to be too bad, but that’s just based on a forecast, and you never know when you get into steeper slopes because sometimes forecasts and the actual site may be a little different.”

Below is a list of notable fires in the Okanagan and Similkameen

OKANAGAN

Oliver Mountain

  • Location: Oliver Mountain, near Highway 97.
  • Size: 3.5 hectares.
  • Cause: Person.
  • Status: Active.

Goode’s Creek

Location: Okanagan Mountain Park, near Kelowna.

  • Size: 1,370 hectares.
  • Cause: Lightning.
  • Status: Classified as under control. Zero personnel on site. BCWS says the fire has received sufficient suppression action to ensure no more growth will occur.
  • BCWS notes: “Although resources have not been specifically assigned to this wildfire, it will be patrolled and monitored for any flare ups that may occur within the fire perimeter. Crews have pulled all gear out from this fire.”

Pennask Mountain

  • Location: Pennask Mountain, near Highway 97C.
  • Size: 2.54 hectares.
  • Cause: Lightning.
  • Status: Active.

Harris Creek Forest Service Road

  • Location: 16 kilometres southeast of Lumby.
  • Size: 260 hectares.
  • Cause: Lightning.
  • Status: Out of control. Twenty personnel on site.
  • BCWS notes: “(Tuesday), there was increased fire behaviour on this wildfire and it is expected to increase again today. Helicopters bucketed on the west flank and held the machine guard. Crews continue to establish a wide containment line around this fire to box it in. This will help to limit the spread of fire including; west into a slide area and south into the Greystokes Protected Area (park). The machine guard on the west flank is almost complete.”

Proctor Road

  • Location: 16 kilometres northeast of Lumby.
  • Size: 20 hectares.
  • Cause: Under investigation.
  • Status: Active; fire considered as being held. Thirteen personnel on site.
  • BCWS notes: “The crews have made excellent progress in the suppression of this wildfire and will continue to work to increase containment. They have a machine guard on the north end of the perimeter on flat ground, and they also have a fuel free around the entire perimeter of the Proctor Road wildfire.”

Monte Lake

  • Location: Seven kilometres south of Monte Lake
  • Size: 114 hectares.
  • Cause: Lightning.
  • Status: Active; fire considered as being held. Sixteen personnel on site with two water tenders. Air support and heavy equipment available as needed.
  • BCWS notes: “This wildfire is now considered being held, which means we are not expecting it to grow outside of its current perimeter. The fire remains 100 per cent guarded with 100 per cent hose lay.”

Sugar Mountain

  • Location: Four kilometres east of Sugar Lake.
  • Size: 170 hectares.
  • Cause: Under investigation.
  • Status: Out of control. An area restriction order is in place for Crown land in the vicinity of Sugar Lake (west of Sugar Lake).
  • BCWS notes: “This fire is one of multiple fires in the drainages of Mabel and Sugar Lakes from Highway 6 in the south to Three Valley Gap in the north. Several of the fires, including Sugar Mountain wildfire, have grown past the initial attack stage; local forest companies have engaged heavy equipment and personnel on these fires. Yesterday, there was active fire behaviour consuming green pockets of fuel and moving downhill spreading to containment lines. Equipment is continuing to build guard from the south flank northerly along the east flank. Today, it is expected the fire behaviour will increase and smoke will be visible. This fire is located in an area where there are heavy fuels and closed canopies that can be challenging if there are flare ups. Steep terrain is also an issue.”

Mabel Creek

  • Location: Six kilometres east of Mabel Lake.
  • Size: 200 hectares.
  • Cause: Under investigation; suspected lightning caused.
  • Status: Out of control. Twenty personnel on site.
  • BCWS notes: “This is one of the multiple fire starts in the drainages of Mabel and Sugar Lakes from Highway 6 in the south to Three Valley Gap in the north. Steep terrain is also an issue for the suppression of this wildfire and burning debris has been rolling over containment lines.”

SIMILKAMEEN

Placer Mountain

  • Location: 37 kilometres south of Princeton.
  • Size: 2,372 hectares.
  • Cause: Lightning.
  • Status: Active; 90 per cent contained. Classified as being held. One hundred and 13 personnel on site, along with three pieces of heavy equipment. Ten helicopters on site, but also being interchanged with the Snowy Mountain wildfire.
  • BCWS notes: “Crews have made significant progress on this fire and will patrol and mop-up today. Gear will continue to be demobilized in areas where it is no longer needed.”

Snowy Mountain

  • Location: 14 kilometres south of Keremeos.
  • Size: 12,039 hectares.
  • Cause: Lightning.
  • Status: Active; 40 per cent contained. One hundred and eight personnel on site plus seven pieces of heavy equipment. Ten helicopters on site, but also being interchanged with the Placer Mountain wildfire.
  • BCWS notes: “With the support of helicopters, crews began to conduct a burn-off yesterday morning on the southeast corner, near Chopaka Road. This operation was initiated for the purpose of removing fuels from the slopes adjacent to properties in order to halt the forward progression of the fire. This burn was very successful in helping us with our suppression efforts, and is being continued again this morning to expand along the south flank as of 6 a.m. Smoke will be visible. Crews will continue to work to secure the north flank and tie it into rocky slopes in order to keep the fire from wrapping around towards Keremeos. Other crews continue their work on the east flank to mop-up and patrol along Chopaka Road, and personnel worked to utilize an existing road system in the Roberts Creek area to the south of the fire to develop containment lines and take advantage of existing features. The fire remains to the west of Chopaka Road, but is burning in a southward direction and the south flank and is approximately three kilometres from the U.S. border.”

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