Heatwave sets record, campfire ban put in place

A record-breaking heat wave and the subsequent thunderstorms have kept fire crews in the South Okanagan busy throughout the weekend.

Samuel Tuckwood cools down by going through one of the attractions at the splash pad on the grounds near Skaha Lake recently. After a brief respite from the heat the forecast is for things to warm up again this week.

Samuel Tuckwood cools down by going through one of the attractions at the splash pad on the grounds near Skaha Lake recently. After a brief respite from the heat the forecast is for things to warm up again this week.

A record-breaking heat wave and the subsequent thunderstorms have kept fire crews in the area busy throughout the weekend as a fire ban is set to be in place Friday.

On Sunday the temperature hit 36.4 degrees Celsius in Penticton which broke the old record for June 28 of 34.9 degrees Celsius set in 1979.

The Sunday high was the hottest it got in Penticton over the weekend with some cloud coverage tapering off the extreme heat.

“Some of that high-level cirrus cloud came in from the coast and that just capped off the temperatures. It was places to the east in Revelstoke and Nelson that were getting some really scorching high temperatures up to about 39,” said Lisa Coldwells, meteorologist with Environment Canada.

The atmosphere will be stable throughout the week making for a sunny Canada Day and weekend.

Last week’s heat wave lead to some thunderstorms throughout the region with over 5,000 lightning strikes in the Kamloops Fire Centre Monday.

Since June 26, crews have been working on tackling 20 lightning-caused wildfires in the area.

Most of the fires have remained less than a hectare in size, however a fire in Hunter Creek is currently burning at a size of 70 hectares and a 20-hectare fire is being fought Rancher Creek.

A helicopter crew is assisting 40 firefighters on the ground at Hunter Creek, while another 40 are fighting the Rancher Creek fire.

“We did receive a lot of rain with the lightning that came through, so that’s knocked down some of the fires,” said Kelsey Winter, fire information officer with the Kamloops Fire Centre. “We are anticipating seeing lots of those lightning strikes pop up as things continue to dry out.”

Starting at noon Friday all open fires, including campfires, are prohibited throughout the entire Kamloops Fire Centre. The fire ban will stay in place until the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations informs the public otherwise.

The ban is to prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety and the fire danger rating is currently “high” throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre.

Some areas are rated “extreme” and with the current trend of warm, dry weather wildfires have displayed aggressive behaviour and are taxing firefighting resources.

The prohibition also applies to open fires of any size, industrial burning, fireworks, tiki torches, sky lanterns and burning barrels.

The prohibition covers all B.C. parks, Crown and private lands, however it does not apply within the municipal boundaries of local government.