Smoky skies remain in Okanagan despite success of local wildfire crews | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Smoky skies remain in Okanagan despite success of local wildfire crews

The Okanagan Valley is hazy today, Sept. 8, because of wildfire smoke travelling into B.C. from Washington State.
September 08, 2021 - 1:00 PM

Wildfires from the other side of the US border are causing hazy skies in the Okanagan again today, Sept. 8 – but the smoke is steering clear of Kamloops on its path towards the Rockies. 

A Smoky Skies Bulletin for the Okanagan reports that smoke is expected to come from fires in Washington State and will continue for 24 to 48 hours. The smoke will particularly funnel up through the Okanagan, according to Gavin King, Air Quality Meteorologist with the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy,

Asked if the Okanagan tends to receive the worst of Washington State’s smoke, King said it’s not always typical. Today however, the valley happens to be along the path of least resistance for most of the smoke.

“If the wildfire were a couple hundred kilometres to the east or west it would be a different valley,” he said. “And then we’re expecting it to travel to the northeast before dissipating over the Rockies.”

Even if wildfires in Washington State continue burning for more than 48 hours, King said the smoke will likely clear out anyway as wind patterns are expected to change before then.

Today’s smoky skies bulletin was not issued for Kamloops, where King looked out of his office window and saw rain clouds to the north of the city.

“Rain showers are helping to keep the smoke down here in Kamloops.”

READ MORE: Dirty air causes health hazard across Interior, flight cancellations at Kamloops airport

This is all despite local success on some of the worst fires this year. In the South Okanagan there are no longer any out-of-control fires. Hedges Butte was the only remaining one on the list and it was classified as Held as of yesterday, Sept. 7, after crews were able to completely surround the perimeter.

”It’s a little bit of relief for our crews,” fire information officer Aydan Coray said.

Base camp for the Okanagan complex was in Oliver. Operations for the southern region began after the discovery of the Thomas Creek fire on July 11. Subsequent fires in the Okanagan started near Nk’Mip Creek, Skaha Creek and Mt. Law, as well as the White Rock Lake fire that reached into the Okanagan.

READ MORE: iN PHOTOS: Apocalyptic-like sky in South Okanagan due to wildfire smoke, ash

Coray said each of those wildfires still have personnel working on site to continue mop-up efforts.

“Still plenty to do.”

Although the success of South Okanagan wildfire crews is not being reflected in today’s smoky sky, Corey said the poor air quality is small potatoes compared to what her team is used to.

“Our crews worked in smoky conditions regularly throughout the season so today’s smoke is nothing they aren’t used to,” Coray said. “But it was nice having that period of clear, breathable air.”

Summerland on a hazy Setp. 8.
Summerland on a hazy Setp. 8.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Dan Walton or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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