There has been a bit of relief for BC Forest Service wildfire crews this week as temperatures cooled, along with predictions of rain.
This year has seen a number of fires breaking out in the region – fortunately, none of any significance has occurred yet in the Similkameen.
Last week, while most of the village was preoccupied with the Keremeos Hotel fire, forestry crews were dousing a lightning strike near the Ashnola valley. Later in the week, the KDVFD was called to the former Farmworkers Campground to finish extinguishing a campfire that was getting away from some campers on the river flats.
It’s important for residents not to let their guard down. Traditionally, the worst month of the fire season in the Similkameen is August, and so far, longer term forecasts are predicting a return to warm sunny conditions by the weekend.
This fire season is reminiscent of the 2003 and 1994 seasons in the South Okanagan and Similkameen.
On July 20, 1994, the Garnet fire began in Penticton. That fire took two weeks to bring under control, and resulted in one of the largest Emergency Social Services responses in British Columbia history at the time.
Most of us still remember the 2003 fire season and the Okanagan Mountain Park fire, which began on August 16, followed by the Vaseux Lake fire which ignited on August 22.
The rain expected earlier this week won’t be enough to quench the tinder dry conditions prevalent in our region, especially if the weather turns hot and dry once again.
So far, this region has been very lucky this year; it’s important to remember the worst of the season may not yet be upon us.
Let’s all be aware – and be careful out there.