Smoke likely to linger in valley awhile

Smoke coated the Central Okanagan as a wildfire burned in West Kelowna, and even though the blaze has been contained the murky layer may linger for awhile.

Smoke coated the Central Okanagan as a wildfire burned in West Kelowna, and even though the blaze has been contained the murky layer may linger for awhile.

“We have a pattern over us that’s very stagnant—there’s very little flow,” said Doug Lundquist, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, adding that there is also a possibility of winds as high as 40 kilometres an hour in individual neighbourhoods which, if it materializes, could cause issues for firefighters.

If not, however, conditions will likely remain unseasonably hot and stagnant in the valley.

The mercury is expected to hover around 30 C for the remainder of the day, and continue in that vein for the next six to 10 days.

Conditions, on the whole, offered mixed blessings to firefighter crews who were out knocking down the fire that started Monday night.

While no breeze meant flames weren’t being fanned, they were also given a limited view of what they’re working with.

“The fire is in a deep canyon, and with an inversion, it’s socked in the smoke,” said Noelle Kekula, fire information officer for the Kamloops Fire Centre.

“That made air support more difficult in that it limited their ability to lay the retardant lines or bucket.”

That challenge aside, crews managed to limit the fire’s spread to 39 hectares as of  around 1 p.m., Tuesday and by Wednesday morning the evacuation order that sent 550 from their homes was rescinded.

Moving forward, patrol crews will be out looking for hot spots and during that stretch weather is expected to once again work in their favour.

“We are anticipating good recovery because of high, overnight humidity,” said Kekula.

The  wildfire near Bear Creek Provincial Park  quadrupled in size in the time from when it was reported late Monday night to Tuesday afternoon and moved as close as 400 metres to the nearest house.

It was 100 per cent contained by 2 p.m. Wednesday.

While a cause has yet to be established, Mounties have said the blaze is possibly human caused.

Residents with questions about the fire or related evacuation alerts should call 250-469-8490.


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