A spectacular lightning storm on Monday night kept firefighters in the West Kootenay busy overnight and Tuesday morning.
Kootenay-Boundary Regional Fire and Rescue received hundreds of calls about lightning strikes, and had to fight one house fire caused by a strike in Montrose.
Regional Fire Chief Dan Derby says the fire started around 7 p.m.. The fire was quickly put out and hydro service disconnected to the building. No one was injured in the incident.
The family was evacuated from the home and put in touch with local emergency support officials.
He said crews responded to around 20 calls overnight, checking to ensure lightning strikes had not caused any other fires.
Fire crews with Teck Trail operations were also on the scene of a fire on company property on Thunder Road, between Table Mountain and the Warfield Reservoir, says company spokesperson Catherine Adair.
“Teck and Regional District personnel responded to the fire immediately,” said Adair. “There were no injuries and there was no threat to infrastructure.”
Adair told the Trail Times the fire is under control and continuing to be monitored by Teck emergency crews.
Regionally, fire crews with the Southeast Fire District are attacking or monitoring about 28 lightning-caused fires, including 12 in the Arrow Lakes zone, which includes Trail.
“It was a fairly active evening,” said BC Wildfire Service spokesperson Karlie Shaughnessy. “The good news is, none of these fires are threatening any structures or communities and are all fairly small.”
Shaughnessy says crews are either on the fires, or being assigned to them.
The lightning came with rain in some areas, which may help a bit.
“But the precipitation was highly variable — some areas had no rain, while some had 28 millimetres,” said Shaughnessy. “While any precipitation helps lower the fire risk, it only takes one warm day to dry things out.”
Meanwhile, the Southeast Fire District is warning that westerly winds are bringing smoke from the massive fires in the central and southern interior into the Kootenays.
“People can expect to see more smoky skies, but the majority of fires are coming from the Prince George, Cariboo and Kamloops fire districts,” Shaughnessy told the Trail Times.
She says the smoke is likely to continue until the fires are put out, which won’t happen until the area receives significant precipitation.
Interior Health issued an advisory warning that air quality may be impacted by the smoke.
“Some individuals may be more sensitive to the effects of smoke from forest fires, such as those with heart or lung conditions,” the news release stated. “These individuals should watch for any change in symptoms that may be due to smoke exposure.
“If any symptoms are noted, affected individuals should take steps to reduce their exposure to smoke and if necessary see their physician or local walk-in clinic.”
Among the steps the public can take to limit problems from smoke: stop or reduce outside activities if breathing becomes difficult. Use common sense.
While smoke levels may be lower indoors, levels of smoke particles will still be increased. Air conditioners don’t filter air or improve air quality. Monitor your symptoms.
Consider visiting a location like a shopping mall with cooler filtered air.
Reduce indoor pollution sources such as smoking or burning other materials.
Move to an area with cleaner air. Conditions can vary dramatically by area and elevation.
Residents with asthma or other chronic illness should activate their asthma or personal care plan.
Pay attention to local air quality reports, air quality may be poor even though smoke may not be visible.
Commercially available HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters can further reduce poor indoor air quality near the device.