Alerts, orders, bans and hazy skies

Maka-Murray wildfire. (B.C. Wildfire Management photo)

Maka-Murray wildfire. (B.C. Wildfire Management photo)

UPDATE — The Maka-Murray wildfire near Murray Lake grew to an estimated 100 hectares overnight, the Kamloops Fire Centre reported today (Wednesday).

The fire remains zero-percent contained and fire officials are assessing how to fight the fire, which resulted in an evacuation alert for 30-35 properties Tuesday night by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.

The Apex Mountain Fire west of Penticton was at 60 hectares.

The biggest fire in the province, the Mount McAllister fire 56 km west of Chetwynd, has ballooned to 20,000 hectares, twice what it was on Tuesday. It, too, is zero-percent contained, and is putting up a lot of smoke and ash.

The fire is being monitored but not actively suppressed.

A smoke advisory has been issued for Kamloops and much of the southern Interior by Environment Canada because of the hazy skies, which contain higher than normal particulate matter. Strenuous outdoor activity should be limited and those with heart and lung conditions are advised to stay indoors.

Environment Canada said there will be widespread smoke today with a high of 37C.

A campfire ban in the Kamloops Fire Centre came into effect at noon today. The Coastal Fire Centre announced today all open burning will be prohibited effected noon Thursday.

NEWS/ WILDFIRES — Evacuation alerts and orders, campfire bans and hazy skies are the order of the day across B.C. today (Wednesday) as tinder-dry forests and lightning make for a perfect storm of wildfire activity.

With fire danger rated high to extreme, a campfire ban comes into effect in the Kamloops Fire Centre at noon today in an effort to avoid human-caused fires but prohibitions can’t stop lightning.

That’s what caused a fire that was burning within five km. of Murray Lake near the old Coquihalla toll booth Tuesday night, resulting in an evacuation alert to 30-35 property owners by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.

The Maka-Murray fire was proving hard to fight, with a rappel crew, air tankers and helicopters being pulled away in the afternoon for safety reasons.

The Kamloops sky was tinged with haze Tuesday and that wasn’t expected to be any different today (Wednesday) as smoke from heavy fire activity from elsewhere in the province was drifting south.

“The majority of the smoke is drifting down from large fires in north and central B.C.,” said Kayla Pepper, a fire information officer with the Kamloops Fire Centre.

The BlueSky Western Canada wildfire smoke forecasting system shows moderate levels of PM2.5 settling over Kamloops during the next 48 hours. The system combines wildfire information with weather forecasting computer models to provide hour-by-hour forecasts.

One of those big fires sending out smoke and ash is in the Prince George Fire Centre 56 kilometres west of Chetwynd. The Mt. McAllister fire had reached 10,000 hectares by Tuesday night and was still growing.

As a means of comparison, the McLure fire in 2003 burned for several weeks and reached 26,000 hectares. The fire centre was considering a controlled burnoff ahead of the fire front to remove fuel from the fire’s path.

The Peace River Regional District issued an evacuation order for an area directly south and west of Hudson’s Hope as a result of the Mt. McAllister fire.

The Kamloops Fire Centre has responded to 26 wildfires since Monday, 19 of them lightning-caused. The other seven were human caused.

Kamloops temperatures will cool for several days starting on Thursday, with some clouds moving in on Friday. Daytime highs will be around 29C over the weekend. Current daytime highs are 10 degrees above normal.

The Kamloops Fire Centre was also dealing with a 35-hectare blaze in the Apex Mountain area west of Penticton on Tuesday. Two helicopters, four air tankers and 27 firefighters were trying to slow the fire as it moved upslope.

Airtanker groups and helicopters worked late into the evening, the fire-centre said. The fire is suspected to have been person-caused.

The Prince George Fire Centre is responding to 16 active fires. Four of them are in modified response and are being actively monitored by Wildfire Management Branch personnel, while 12 have active fire suppression occurring.

Open fires are banned throughout the entire Prince George region.

The Coastal Fire Centre has had multiple remote location fires started from lightning through the Fraser Canyon in the last four days. There were about 160 recorded strikes in the lower Fraser Canyon (Boston Bar and south), which have resulted in 16 fires so far, and more are expected.

A Ministry Zone Operations Centre (MZOC) is being established in the area to provide support for increased wildfire response. The MZOC will assist by providing logistical, planning, financial and operational support to crews and resources.

Weather conditions on the coast continue hot and dry. Passage of a forecasted upper trough on Thursday will bring increased winds, especially to coastal valleys.

Effective at 4 p.m. Thursday, campfires and open burning will be prohibited in some portions of the Northwest Fire Centre.

The Cariboo Fire Centre has expanded its campfire prohibition across the entire fire centre effective at noon today (Wednseday). It will stay in effect until Sept. 30. Open burning is also prohibited, including open fires of any size.

About Mel Rothenburger (8243 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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