A wildfire continues to burn in the Sheep Creek area, west of Premier Lake. Crews are on site as of Thursday, July 23, 2020. (File photo)

Temperatures soar, wildfire danger rating rises across Kootenays

East, West Kootenays expected to hit high 30s C as fire danger rating increases to high and extreme

Environment Canada has issued a heat warning as temperatures soar across the Kootenays, and are expected to peak in the high 30s C ahead of the long weekend.

The heat warning applies to the Kootenay Lake and East Kootenay regions, however, high temperatures are also being forecasted in the Elk Valley and Slocan regions.

A strong ridge of high pressure remains over B.C.’s southern interior, according to Environment Canada. While the high temperatures will peak on Friday, the weather will moderate and cool off as the ridge of high pressure weakens on Saturday and throughout the weekend.

According to Environment Canada’s forecast, Nelson is expected to reach a scorching 38 C on Thursday, while Cranbrook is expected to peak at 35 C on Saturday and Creston will hit 36 C on Friday.

Given the higher temperatures, the fire danger rating in parts of the Kootenay region are high to extreme and are expected to remain that way over the weekend, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service.

“Fire Danger as of yesterday (July 28th) in both the East and West Kootenays is predominantly High to Extreme with the exception being the northern area of the region which is experiencing lower Fire Danger ratings at this time,” according to a spokesperson with the Southeast Fire Centre. “This northern region (roughly north of Golden and Revelstoke) is seeing fire Danger ratings from Low to Moderate.”

READ: Premier Lake fire under control

Wildfire activity has been below average in the Southeast Fire Centre this year, as crews have responded to 33 fires that have burned a total of 26 hectares.

It’s a stark difference from recent years past, which have included record-setting wildfire seasons in B.C. According to the Southeast Fire Centre, the 10-year average for this time of year is 127 fires that have burned 1,077 hectares.

“The cool, wet spring and early summer kept the numbers of fires requiring a response low,” said the Southeast Fire Centre spokesperson. “Conditions are changing, however and the recent hot and dry weather has increased Fire Danger.”

Only one wildfire in the region continues to burn however, the Sheep Creek fire, near Premier Lake in the East Kootenay, is under control and is not expected to grow any larger. That fire, which was discovered on July 23, is estimated at 4.8 hectares and is suspected to be lightning-caused.

Heading into the long weekend, the Southeast Fire Centre said larger Category 2 and Category 3 fires, as well as fireworks, remain prohibited. Campfires should be kept small and only used for cooking or heating, and include safety measures such as building a fuel break and having water nearby if needed.


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