Smoke drifting into region from U.S. fires

Most wildfires in the region are doused so where is this hazy layer coming from?

Most wildfires in the region are doused so where is this hazy layer coming from?

Jesse Ellis, a forecaster from the Southeast Fire Centre, says smoke is drifting in all the way from Oregon, California and Washington.

He checks out a map, looks at the weather charts and determines where the airmass is traveling from to get the prognosis.

“It’s partly the combination of a little bit of smoke from fires way down south of us,” he said. “Smoke particles in the air, plus high humidity values make it look a little bit hazier.”

Smoke can travel long distances but generally stays in the mid to upper elevations so you can see it but can’t smell it, he adds. That is “until there is some kind of an event that causes the atmosphere to mix the higher level smoke down to the surface.”

The closest active fire to Trail is about eight kilometres east of Salmo in a caribou habitat range called Hidden Creek. The blaze is 85 hectares in size and has been left burning since July 5 because it’s considered a “modified response fire,” according to Karlie Shaughnessy, Southeast Fire Centre information officer.

Provincial government ecologists determine that fires can help increase biodiversity, so those particular fires are left to burn as modified response fires under the supervision of BC Wildfire Services personnel.

“What we do is we send out a specialist to take a look at it, and he basically puts in control lines,” she explained. “And if the fire reaches a certain point then we’ll do something about it.”

The Southeast Fire Centre has recorded 399 fires so far this year, burning 2,471 hectares in size. This is far more than the five-year average that sits at 161 fires, burning 1,236 hectares.

Shaughnessy attributes the busy fire season to lightning and a real lack of precipitation in July.

Last month, there was a total of 23.9 millimetres of precipitation, which is about 50 per cent of the rainfall normally received when you look at the 30-year average of 48 mm for the month of July.

To report a wildfire or an open burning violation, call 1800-663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.

For the latest information on wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality visit: www.bcwildfire.ca