Risk of forest fire heats up in the Central Okanagan

An image from the Smith Creek fire captured from Glencoe Road in Westbank. - Sharon Bond
An image from the Smith Creek fire captured from Glencoe Road in Westbank.
— image credit: Sharon Bond

It is the busiest fire season since 2010 and the hot dry weather poses more risks this week.

Since April 1, there have been 711 wildfires across the province, with 99 currently burning. As of this point in 2010, the Wildfire Management Branch had recorded 875 fires and 248 were burning, although fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said the latter number reflected a spike at the end of July.

Hot temperatures, dry conditions and lightening storms have made life tricky for forest fire crews this season.

"It was sort of a perfect recipe in terms of fire behaviour," said Skrepnek, noting the high pressure system which sent temperatures skyward earlier this month caused real havoc.

"When that weather system broke down, we had quite a bit of lightening and unstable weather, so it definitely led to additional fire starts. Then, of course, we've been having these really large fires up in Northern B.C. as well," he added.

There have been 208 fires recorded in the Prince George fire region, which is the busiest, but the Kamloops fire region, of which Kelowna is a part, has been very active as well with 180 on record.

Some 400-plus fires are listed as having been caused by people, whereas only 300 were due to lightening strikes. All told, some 189,350 hectares of forest has burned.

The wildfires of note in this region include the Apex Mountain fire, 3 km Botanie Road, Boot Hill, Jura, Maka-Murray, and, locally, Smith Creek is still burning.


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