Smoke billowing from one of the wildfires in the Okanagan Valley. Photo courtesy of candicetdias/Instagram

Soaring temperatures, high winds could worsen fires in B.C.’s southern Interior

Environment Canada’s forecast for the next week in the southern Interior does not inspire confidence, with temperatures in the 30s and winds gusting over 40 kilometres per hour.

Officials in British Columbia’s southern Interior say the warm temperatures and gusty winds in the forecast could spell the end of two days of relief from wildfires raging in the area.

Jason Luciw with the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre in Kelowna, B.C., says officials are would like to see a repeat of the weather the area has seen over the past few days, but he’s not confident it will hold.

“We saw a much happier, much friendlier, Okanagan summer day yesterday,” Luciw said on Sunday.

But Environment Canada’s forecast for the next week in the southern Interior does not inspire confidence, with temperatures in the 30s and winds gusting over 40 kilometres per hour.

“What we don’t want to see is intense heat, direct sun, heavy winds … all of which could be in store starting as early as Monday,” said Luciw.

He said the lower temperatures with cloud coverage and calmer winds helped contain the growth of a fire near Mount Eneas to around 13.74 square kilometres, and cleared out much of the smoke seen in the area on Saturday. Mount Eneas is roughly 35 kilometres south of Kelowna, between the towns of Summerland and Peachland.

The B.C. Wildfire Service’s chief fire information officer, Kevin Skrepnek, agreed with Luciw, saying the weather outlook for the foreseeable future will be problematic for the Interior — including unpredictable lightning strikes.

“Not only are we thinking that our existing fires are probably going to flare up a bit … but we are also bracing for the potential that a lot of new fires could start with that lightning,” he said.

Related: Okanagan Wildfires: An update on wildfires and evacuations

Related: Okanagan Mountain Park fire remains the same size

Related: Cooler temps Friday, but no rain in forecast until August

Environment Canada has maintained a smoky skies bulletin for large parts of the province, including the East Kootenay region, just west of the Albertan border, to the Okanagan Valley area roughly 350 kilometres west of the border.

Peter Waterman, mayor of the Summerland district, said no properties had been reported as damaged or destroyed by the Mount Eneas fire as of Sunday, and he was happy with the co-ordinated efforts of the wildfire service and local fire departments throughout the Interior.

“I’m quite pleased with the amount of people on this particular fire. It looks like they’re really aggressively going after it,” he said.

He added that the smoke in the area around Summerland had largely blown off by Sunday.

“I was out for about an hour-and-a-quarter bike ride early this morning, and you can smell it, but that’s about all.”

Waterman said that across Okanagan Lake from Summerland, the village of Naramata was dealing with two fires. Regional District Chair Karla Kozakevich, who represents Naramata, confirmed both are under control.

Kozakevich said while they are concerned about a fire in the Glenfir area of her district, the Naramata volunteer fire department and others have kept the blaze away from homes.

“We think all the homeowners there should be fine,” said Kozakevich in a phone interview Sunday.

She said residents always have concerns about tourism in the area when natural disasters like wildfires and floods break out, but she wanted to reassure potential vacationers they will be safe and welcome.

“This is not impacting businesses, the wineries, even the residents — it looks like they will all be OK,” Kozakevich said.

Along with the 35 properties already facing evacuation orders in the area, another 890 properties were on evacuation alert between the Central Okanagan and Okanagan-Similkameen regional districts, meaning residents may have to leave at a moment’s notice.

– By Spencer Harwood in Vancouver

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Bashaw council declines penalty forgiveness request from Bashaw Motel owners

The motel was destroyed in the 2016 fire; owners owe $46,000 in fire services, taxes and penalties

Ponoka’s Ronnie Racing wins Hot August Night

About 15,000 people filled the Castrol Raceway stands at the motorsports complex

Ponoka County residents divided on farmland uses

There were about 150 people at the county’s meeting related to reducing confined feeding operations.

Ponoka County slows changes to CFO plans

Residents speak their concerns over the potential of changing areas allowing CFOs

PHOTOS: Samson Cree Nation Pow Wow

The Samson Cree Nation hosted its annual Pow Wow, celebrating youth this year

Trudeau formally announces he’ll run again in 2019

PM Justin Trudeau gears up to run in next year’s election

Smoke from B.C. wildfires prompts air quality advisories across Western Canada

A massive cloud of smoke hangs over B.C. and Alberta due to wildfires

Pope on sex abuse: “We showed no care for the little ones”

In response to the Pennsylvania report, Francis labeled the misconduct “crimes”

Ottawa announces $189M to extend employment insurance for seasonal workers

The pilot project provides seasonal workers with up to five more weeks of benefits

Trump rages on Mueller following Times report

Trump takes to Twitter calling Robert Mueller “disgraced and discredited”

Canadians fear for relatives trapped amid flooding in Indian state of Kerala

More than 800,000people have been displaced by floods and landslides

Fast food chains look to capitalize on vegetarian, vegan trend with new items

Seven per cent of Canadians consider themselves vegetarians and 2.3 per cent identify as vegans

Buccaneers pillage Calgary Wolfpack 38-13 in AFL semifinal

Bucs’ looking to take down Monarchs for the AFL Championship

Most Read