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As the Okanagan heats up Lake Country fire chief warns of increased wildfire threat

The Okanagan experienced the hottest month of May on record
The aftermath of a small bush fire that was found behind a house in The Lakes community in Lake Country. (Jordy Cunningham/Capital News) A hedge fire destroyed a shed and a RV trailer on Friday morning, June 2. (West Kelowna Fire Department)

It’s been quite the week in the Central Okanagan with three shed fires, and a bush blaze.

At the same time, the calendar has flipped to June after the Okanagan recorded the driest May on record.

After the bush fire on Wednesday night (May 31) in Lake Country, deputy fire chief Brent Penner told Capital News about the dangers of fire, especially with the warm weather and dry conditions the Okanagan has experienced so far this year.

“The Okanagan is drying out and with that, the risk for wildfire is getting higher,” said Penner. “Right now is the time everyone around the Okanagan needs to be thinking about this. If you’re a smoker, make sure you’re dealing with your smoking material properly, make sure it doesn’t get into any vegetation, whether it be at home or wherever you’re out enjoying yourself.”

The bush fire in Lake Country was human-caused but how it started remains unknown.

On top of smoking, there are many ways fires can start and at this time of year, more people are camping, which usually includes campfires. If not taken care of properly, small campfires can easily turn into a wildfire.

“If you have a campfire, ensure it’s out when you’re done,” said Penner. “Pay attention to due diligence and make sure there’s no method for that fire to expand and go into places it shouldn’t.”

Penner also pointed out that houses with yards that are well taken care of and not a lot of over-hanging vegetation are easier to work with during this time of year. The bush fire was on Wednesday night was on a hillside behind a house but Penner said that because of rocks on the hill and a good amount of space between the forest and the home, there were a lot of good aspects for fire crews to work with.

The hot weather will remain in the Okanagan over the weekend as a high of 30 C is expected on Saturday, June 3.

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Jordy Cunningham

About the Author: Jordy Cunningham

Hailing from Ladner, B.C., I have been passionate about sports, especially baseball, since I was young. In 2018, I graduated from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops with a Bachelor of Journalism degree
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