August 11, 2018 12:43 pm
Updated: August 11, 2018 4:01 pm

Rain, along with wind and thunderstorms, forecast for smoke-filled Okanagan

Wildfire smoke is blanketing the Okanagan, as seen here in Vernon this Saturday morning, Aug. 11.

Gloria Beaulieu
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Rain is projected to fall today and tomorrow in the Okanagan, a welcome relief for firefighters after weeks of hot, tinder-dry conditions.

Yet with that rain, wind and thunderstorms are also forecast — which could potentially fan fires further or create new ones via lightning strikes.

“We’re predicting a low amount of rain, around 6 to 12 millimetres,” said B.C. Wildfire Service information officer Ellie Dupont. “We’ve got scattered showers on Sunday morning and thundershowers (Saturday) afternoon. If there are thundershowers, there will be gusts up to 35 km/h, maybe 60 km/h as well.

“If we can get a little bit of rain, hopefully we won’t get a lot of fire starts; that’s the big thing.”

A satellite/radar map of today’s weather can be found here.

READ MORE: Bracing themselves for more winds and the possibility of lightning at Mount Goddfriedsen wildfire

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

OKANAGAN

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B.C. Wildfire Service

Mount Gottfriedsen

  • Location: Pennask Mountain, near Highway 97C, 24 kilometres west of West Kelowna.
  • Size: 550 hectares.
  • Cause: Lightning.
  • Status: Active. Nine personnel on site with three pieces of heavy equipment. There are evacuation alerts for the Pennask Lake and Hatheume Lake areas.
  • BCWS notes: “On Friday, the wind was less strong than Thursday and this fire experienced minimal growth. On Friday evening, the wind shifted and the fire began burning back on itself.”

Harris Creek Forest Service Road

  • Location: 16 kilometres southeast of Lumby.
  • Size: 260 hectares.
  • Cause: Lightning.
  • Status: Active, classified as out of control. Twelve personnel on site and seven pieces of heavy equipment. Eight helicopters are available as needed.
  • BCWS notes: “Crews continue to build a wide containment line around this wildfire and it is approximately 75 percent complete. Establishing this containment line will provide an option to burn to the guard if deemed necessary and also limits the spread of fire including; west into a slide area and south into the Greystokes Protected Area (park). Crews are currently working in the south burning out fuels to increase the size of the containment line. Currently the Harris Creek FSR wildfire is showing extreme fire behaviour due to ongoing high temperatures and low relative humidity. Resources are being reassigned to priority areas to minimize fire spread. Smoke is very visible from this wildfire.”

A smoky sunset over Kelowna on Friday evening.

Lori Sanderson

Proctor Road

  • Location: 16 kilometres northeast of Lumby.
  • Size: 25.5 hectares.
  • Cause: Under investigation.
  • Status: Active; fire considered as being held. Thirteen personnel on site.
  • BCWS notes: “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.”

READ MORE: Anxiety builds around province as B.C. wildfires threaten communities

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 BCWS does not expect it to grow outside of its current perimeter.”

Sugar Mountain

  • Location: Four kilometres east of Sugar Lake.
  • Size: 170 hectares.
  • Cause: Under investigation.
  • Status: Active, classified as out of control. Eight helicopters and five pieces of heavy equipment. An area restriction order is in place for Crown land in the vicinity of Sugar Lake (west of Sugar Lake). This wildfire is one of several 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.
  • BCWS notes: “Crews have made progress and now have approximately 60 per cent of the guard complete on the east flank along the south flank and up the west flank. 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. Currently the Sugar Mountain wildfire is showing increased fire behaviour due to ongoing high temperatures and low relative humidity. Resources are being reassigned to priority areas to minimize fire spread. Smoke is very visible from this wildfire.”

Mabel Creek

  • Location: Six kilometres east of Mabel Lake.
  • Size: 1,860 hectares.
  • Cause: Under investigation; suspected lightning caused.
  • Status: Active, classified as out of control. Twelve personnel on site with eight helicopters and seven pieces of heavy equipment. An area restriction order is in place for crown land in the vicinity of Mabel Lake.
  • BCWS notes: “On Thursday, the fire behaviour on this wildfire was very active and there was some growth on the west flank in the vicinity of Mabel Creek. Operations staff are working to establish guards on the west flank to limit growth toward Mabel Lake. Crews are also establishing hoselay for wetlining along the south flank and are working to establish helipads where needed. 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 and has limited some suppression operations in these areas.”

SIMILKAMEEN

Placer Mountain

  • Location: 37 kilometres south of Princeton.
  • Size: 2,372 hectares.
  • Cause: Lightning.
  • Status: Active; classified as being held. Sixty-seven personnel on site with 10 helicopters alternating between this wildfire and the Snowy Mountain wildfire.
  • BCWS notes: “Crews continue to be challenged by the steep terrain on this wildfire. Rattlesnakes are present in some areas as well. Crews will continue to patrol and mop-up today. Hotspots will be actioned and more fire equipment will be demobilized in areas where it is no longer needed.

Snowy Mountain

  • Location: 14 kilometres south of Keremeos.
  • Size: 12,961 hectares.
  • Cause: Lightning.
  • Status: Active; classified as out of control. One hundred and five personnel on site with three pieces of heavy equipment. Ten helicopters are alternating between this wildfire and the Placer Mountain wildfire.
  • BCWS notes: “The fire remains to the west of Chopaka Road, but is burning in a southward direction and the south flank is approximately three kilometres from the U.S. border. Crews continue to face difficult topography. This steep terrain is inoperable in some areas and poses a safety risk to firefighting personnel. Crews are being strategically placed where it is safe and where suppression objectives can be met. The presence of rattlesnakes in the area brings further challenges to crews. Crews continue to mop up and patrol freshly burned areas.”

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