Brush bursts into flames as hot dry winds fan the fire. Greater Trail firefighters quickly contained the Pend d’Oreille blaze. (Trail Daily Times/Black Press)

Lightning sparks 28 fires in Southeast Fire Centre

Lightning started numerous fires throughout the region and more lightning is in the forecast.

Things in the Southeast Fire Centre (SFC) were relatively calm until Monday when lightning sparked 28 new fires.

“The Southeast Fire Centre experienced significant lightning,” explained Karlie Shaughnessy, information officer for the SFC. “The good news is that none of these fires are threatening any structures or communities and that they all are fairly small in size.”

The closest fires to Castlegar as of Wednesday afternoon were near the Waneta border crossing and north of Nelson.

A lightning-caused fire near the Pend-d’Orielle area was reported Monday afternoon. As of Tuesday afternoon it was two hectares in size.

“It saw about five millimetres in precipitation overnight [Monday], which helped the crews, so today we have a crew on site mopping up this fire,” said Shaughnessy. “So they are making really good progress with it.”

Fire Crews were actively working on a higher elevation fire up Duhamel Creek Tuesday and by Wednesday afternoon the fire was 100 per cent contained and in mop-up stage.

In addition to those, several fires were burning on the east side of Arrow Lake.

A fire at Mount Marshall five km southeast of Burton was being held by an initial attack crew.

A fire at Miller Creek, 10 km east of Burton was spot-fire sized.

An older fire at Woden Creek was 100 per cent contained and crews are patrolling for flare-ups.

“The situation [in the Southeast Fire Centre] is looking pretty good right now,” said Shaughnessy on Wednesday afternoon.

None of the fires in the region were large enough to cause the smoke that moved into the area, which was coming from the larger fires in the Kamloops and Cariboo regions.

“The public can expect to see more smoky skies as the wind prevails from the west,” said Shaughnessy.

Skies were clearer Wednesday than Tuesday, when the air quality health index reached 4. But the situation is entirely dependent of prevailing winds.

With no significant precipitation in the long-term weather forecast, conditions could worsen at any time. At press time, the weather forecast was calling for a chance of thunderstorms Wednesday evening and then again on Sunday, with hot and dry conditions in between.

A complete fire prohibition is in effect for the entire fire centre. Anyone going into the backcountry is urged to use extreme caution, especially if operating off-road vehicles as their exhaust systems can and do start forest fires.

If you see smoke coming from the forest, or a fire call the forest fire reporting line at 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on your cell phone.

Updated fire information can be found at bcwildfire.ca.