The smoke currently shrouding Trail is emanating from several wildfires including one in the U.S. near Osoyoos, which has prompted an air quality alert in much of the Southern Interior. Guy Bertrand photo

Smoky skies hover above Trail

A good part of the Southern Interior is once again shrouded in smoke.

Kamloops Fire Centre Fire Information Officer Justine Hunse says the main contributor of smoke and ash is the Diamond Creek Fire in Washington State, which is near Border Lake by the Canada-U.S. border and approximately 70 kilometres west of Osoyoos.

“The Diamond Creek Fire that originated in the U.S. has grown significantly since (Tuesday) and we have indications it crossed into Canada overnight,” Hunse says. “(Wednesday), BC Wildfire is assessing by air, where the fire has gone and how far. We don’t believe there are any structures or communities threatened at this time.”

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in collaboration with the Interior and Northern Health Authorities has amended the area covered by the Smoky Skies Bulletin to include the West Kootenay region.

“Smoke concentrations will vary widely as winds, fire behaviour and temperatures change,” said the bulletin.

Higher temperatures and gusty winds resulted in aggressive behaviour on the Elephant Hill Fire southwest of Kamloops Tuesday. The fire is 175,185 hectares in size, which is considered to be out-of-control but is 50 per cent contained. A total of 418 firefighters are working to establish guards around the fire.

Smoke is also emanating from the Philpott Road Fire near Kelowna, which has been mapped at 465 ha. Although Highway 33 is now re-open to two lanes of traffic.

“Smoke is making its way into the atmosphere and following upper level winds which are from the southwest,” says Environment Canada meteorologist Cindy Yu, noting winds are expected to change to a westerly flow Thursday.

Yu says a low-pressure system currently forming out over the Pacific Ocean has some characteristics of a winter storm.

“We’re looking at the possibility of some rain, but we don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up,” she added looking ahead to next week.

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