Southern Interior wildfire fighters can’t even catch a break at night | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Southern Interior wildfire fighters can’t even catch a break at night

The White Rock Lake wildfire, taken Aug. 6, 2021.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Micah Mckerlich
August 13, 2021 - 8:00 AM

Usually, at this time of year, nights cool down enough to dampen wildfire activity in B.C.

But, given the extreme heat and dryness of the Thompson and Okanagan regions, that’s just not happening this year, Rick Manwaring, deputy minister of the Ministry of Forests said during a news briefing, Aug. 12.

“Relative humidity is one of the biggest factors in wildfire behavior,” he said. “At this time of the year, we usually start to look towards what we call recovery so, as the sun goes down and the nighttime comes, the relative humidity declines on the land base and wildfire activities drop.

“For example, on the White Rock Lake fire, we have a number of operations where crews are working around the clock on the fire lines to put in guards to take as much advantage of that lower fire behaviour as possible. Because of the temperatures we’re having in the South Central part of the province, we’re not seeing that recovery in the humidity at night. We’re seeing continued fire behavior overnight and it really limits our ability to make progress outside the burning cycle.”

The White Rock Lake fire is threatening properties along Westside Road across Okanagan Lake from Kelowna and burned north through Monte Lake last week.

Fires in the Prince George and Cariboo fire districts are now being brought under control and some fires in the Coastal fire region may be out in the next couple of weeks, he said.

“Some of the larger fires in the South Central Interior, we’re going to be fighting those right up until the snow falls,” Manwaring said.

Some progress has been made in recent days due to colder damper weather over the past weekend. The winds have been out of the south and blowing gently, which has helped with containment efforts.

But, there are heat warnings and alerts in place for the South Thompson and Okanagan regions over the next two days followed by cooler but windier weather.

“I anticipate, after Sunday, the wind direction will change,” Manwaring said. “The effort at that point will be to protect the guards. It is possible, to be honest, that the fire will jump the guards in some places. That’s what we’re planning for right now.”

For more information on wildfires of note in B.C., go here.

— This story was corrected at 8:40 a.m. Friday, Aug. 13, 2021 to change Monte Creek to Monte Lake.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 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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