Warmer, dryer winds expected to lead to growth, visible smoke from wildfires in South Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Warmer, dryer winds expected to lead to growth, visible smoke from wildfires in South Okanagan

An aerial shot of the Nk'Mip Creek wildfire
Image Credit: BC Wildfire Services
August 12, 2021 - 5:00 PM

BC Wildfire Service crews continued to focus extra attention on the northern tip of the Nk’Mip Creek wildfire between Oliver and Osoyoos today.

During a presentation for the Regional District Okanagan-Simiklameen board this afternoon, Aug. 12, wildfire service information officer Mike McCulley said the northern tip of the Nk'Mip Creek fire saw some growth occurred last night, but today’s winds were favourable and sent the flames back the other way.

The winds are presenting other challenges, however.

“It’s very cautionary for us,” McCulley said. “It’s a little warmer, windier and drier every day.”

He said wind conditions have increased today, and crews were hoping it would begin to shift back from its northwesterly direction. 

“But it looks like this is going to persist for at least a few more days," McCulley said.

Nevertheless, crews have been making good progress on the northern tip of the Nk’Mip wildfire. Yesterday, three ground crews were constructing and reinforcing guard lines in that area, and were given extra breathing room thanks to air tankers applying retardant and helicopters bucketing water onto the fire.

“And we expect to have some good work done there in the next few days," he said.

Crews are also attacking the southern flank of Nk'Mip, though that is largely a mop-up operation. 

The Nk’Mip wildfire is estimated at 17,472 hectares, and dedicated to its attack are 229 firefighters, 10 structural protection personnel, 39 support staff (including a BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Team), 39 pieces of heavy equipment and eight helicopters.

With weather forecasts predicting more hot days ahead, BC Wildfire is expecting some growth and visible smoke within the Okanagan complex. However, today’s winds are not as problematic at the Thomas Creek south of Penticton wildfire as they are at Nk’Mip, McCulley said.

READ MORECrews battling Thomas Creek wildfire south of Penticton see light at the end of the tunnel

That fire is most active along the northwest flank in the Derenzy Lake area, as well as on the northeast flank by Allendale Lake. Crews are largely battling those spots with planned ignitions and by removing unburnt fuel from between the guard line and the fire.

“When we don’t have water we do the best we can with what we have,” McCulley said. “Crews are very cognizant of how much water they take, they do so in a manner that’s respectful of the environment we’re working in as well.”

In an aerial video shown to the board, an overhead of the estimated 11,755 hectare-blaze showed that only patches of forest are burning, and many of the trees within the perimeter remain green and healthy.

Dedicated to Thomas Creek wildfire are 46 firefighters, 47 Canadian Armed Forces personnel, 33 support staff (including a BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Team), 27 pieces of heavy equipment and four helicopters.

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