While much of the Central B.C. Interior is threatened by a record wildfire season, the East Kootenay has so far been relatively unscathed.
This, despite ongoing high temperatures and a fire rating of extreme. But this is not to say BC Wildfire Service crews aren’t active in the southeast corner of the province.
A fire was reported Wednesday, July 19, caused by lightening approximately 35 kilometres east of Elko — 100 kms east of Cranbrook — that is five hectares in size, according to Southeast Fire Centre Information Officer Karlie Shaughnessy. She informed the Townsman Thursday that two initial attack crews and one helicopter were working on it as of Thursday morning.
Another lightning caused fire was also reported yesterday 22 kilometres north east of Creston that is 3.5 hectares in size. Two initial attack crews and one unit crew, so 26 individuals in total are working on it and Shaughnessy says that they have made really good progress.
Both fires were burning in remote areas and there are no fires currently threatening any communities or structures in the East Kootenay region.
With a province-wide state of emergency still in effect, more than 30,000 people still displaced from their homes and firefighters from Australia coming to help combat the wildfires, Cranbrook and the East Kootenay region have been fortunate.
Although Cranbrook has not been breaking any records in terms of high temperatures, the long enduring heatwave we have been experiencing has led to an extended dry pattern that is “out of the ordinary.”
“We didn’t have much in the way of precipitation across the southern half of B.C. for the last month really,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Alyssa Charbonneau. “And that’s been contributing to the wildfire situation and the risk of wildfires which has been going up.
“So typically we do see more rain in July than what we’ve had and through the end of June as well — so that has been out of the ordinary.”
Temperatures, while not record breaking, have been slightly above normal, but as of Wednesday night and Thursday morning, July 20, southern and central interior B.C. is experiencing what Environment Canada refers to as an upper-low — basically a cool, showery air mass that has come through and will lead to widespread showers and perhaps thunderstorms as well.
Cranbrook itself is listed with only a 30 per cent chance of showers, but for the rest of the province, the precipitation will be a much-welcomed reprieve.
“After really the extended period of nothing this is the first kind of widespread rain showers that we are forecasting so that is definitely I’m sure going to be a relief,” Charbonneau said. “There also is thunderstorms mixed in there which is not great but luckily it does seem that it’s coming with rain so hopefully that will be some help.”
Shaughnessy had just got off of her weather call when she spoke with the Townsman and was informed of the possibility of thunderstorms and spotty showers.
“So of course with thunderstorms comes the chance for lightning and therefore new fire-starts so we’re just preparing for this weather event and pre-positioning crews,” Shaughnessy says.
As we head into the weekend a ridge of high pressure will build back in and Cranbrook will see temperatures rise and return to normal; dry and sunny conditions that will persist throughout the weekend.