Hazy skies to continue as wildfires rage in Washington

Cranbrook residents woke up to a smoky haze Monday morning from wildfires in the Okanagan and Washington State.

More hazy skies could be headed our way as fires in the Okanagan and Washington State continue to burn.

The smoke seen over the Cranbrook and Kimberley area on Monday morning was indeed from those fires burning hundreds of kilometers away.

Ralph Adams, meteorologist for the Ministry of Environment in Kamloops said the southeast corner of the province was expected to be socked in after  modeling done on Sunday evening. Monitoring stations in Grand Forks, Castelgar and Nelson showed Cranbrook would be smoky, and residents woke up to just that on Monday morning.

“Cranbrook was the first to go up,” Adams said. “It appears that the forecast was correct.”

As predicted, the smoke was heavy in the morning and settled over the afternoon. Adams said an advisory is only issued if smoke is expected to stay for 24 hours or more, which was not the case in the southeast corner of the province.

“The smoke around there is starting to decrease,” he said.

That could change, however, as the two massive fires continue to burn.

“Right now it’s dependent on the weather,” Adams said. “With this kind of situation and the weather, pattern shifts, you can get smoke in an area very quickly.”

In the Okanagan, four homes in Peachland were destroyed and 1,500 people were evacuated Monday afternoon as firefighters continued to battle the 200-hectare fire.

The Washington fire is burning near the Grand Coulis Damn about 100 kilometres southwest of Grand Forks. The Southeast Fire Centre reported early Monday morning that no Canadian forests or communities were threatened.

Karlie Shaughnessy, fire information officer based out of Castelgar, said it’s been a quiet year in the Southeast District, and there are no forest fires burning locally at the moment.

“There’s none burning right now that could create that amount of smoke,” she said.

The Ministry of Environment has not released any air quality advisories. Interior Health communications officer Jennifer Inglis said there is plenty of information available at www.interiorhealth.ca for anyone concerned about air quality in the region.

There are two burn bans in effect in the Southeast fire district concerning open burning and fireworks. For more information on bans, visit www.bcwildfire.ca. The most up-t-date forest fire information and more is also available there.