Pair of forest fires to blame for Friday smoke

The air in Golden hung heavy on Friday, as the smoke from two different forest fires made their way into the Columbia Valley.

The air in Golden hung heavy on Friday, as the smoke from two different forest fires made their way into the Columbia Valley.

Forest fire crews from Revelstoke spent the weekend battling a remote blaze that started Thursday alongside the Kinbasket Lake northeast of Golden.

Two three-person initial attack crews, six members of a local unit crew, 10 contract firefighters and a group of air tankers are on scene to battle the 30-hectare fire, which is located 78 kilometres northeast of Golden, said Jordan Turner, a spokesperson with the Southeast Fire Centre.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but Turner said it was likely sparked by a forestry crew working in the area.

The fire danger in the area is currently rated a mix of moderate high, with pockets of extreme – including the area right around Revelstoke.

Turner said the recent heat wave has caused the forests to dry out. With the heat wave expected to continue for another week to 10 days, the danger is likely to increase.

There have been 34 fires throughout the Southeast Fire Centre so far this year, 27 of which were person-caused.

Currently only small campfires are allowed in the southeast and Turner urged people to be careful when starting a fire. With fire activity increasing throughout the province and the rest of the country, battling human-caused fires prevents crews from being deployed where they are badly needed.

There was also smoke wafting in from a wildfire burning on the edge of Banff National Park. The size of the fire is estimated at 5,000 hectares and it’s burning about 75 kilometres northeast of Golden, British Columbia. This fire is being managed jointly by Parks Canada and wildfire crews from the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development in Alberta.

Smoky conditions were expected to continue throughout the weekend, but had mostly dissipated by Saturday.

The fire danger rating in the majority of the Southeast Fire Centre is currently “high”, with pockets of “extreme” fire danger near Invermere,

Nakusp, Grand Forks, Revelstoke and near the Mica Dam.

The continuing hot and dry weather that’s forecast for the region means that forest fuels will remain dry. There is a serious wildfire risk in the Southeast Fire Centre, so extreme caution must be exercised when using campfires.