With heat records being set, dry weather and very windy at times, the threat of fire is growing in the Central Okanagan.
And that threat was made clear Monday with a small grass fire that ignited in West Kelowna near houses.
Because of the potential for a much bigger problem, West Kelowna fire crews were quick to jump on the blaze, which grew to about one hectare thanks to the strong winds and hot weather Monday afternoon.
While there were homes in the area, none were damaged or evacuated as a result of the fire and there were no reported injuries.
According to West Kelowna Fire chief Jason Brolund, the grass fire was located on Bear Creek Road, near Scott Crescent. He said it his department dispatched about 20 firefighters and four trucks to the scene to make sure the blaze was knocked down quickly.
Brolund said Monday’s fire was also a good reminder to the public to have personal emergency plans in place and to talk about them with family. And it’s good advice wherever you live in the Okanagan.
“I was hoping that everyone in the neighbourhood would discuss it at the dinner table last night,” he said.
Because the area where the fire started has older homes build amongst trees, Brolund said that area of West Kelonwa has “a bit of a target on it” for his crews.
“We have done a fair amount of planning and training in the area,” said the fire chief.
While some homeowners in the area have taken preventative measures, such as replacing shake roofs with more fire resistant ones and cleaning up their yards, others have not and that’s a concern for fire crews.
On Tuesday, the forest fire danger rating rose to high from moderate and is expected to rise again to extreme in the next few days as the weather stays hot.
On Monday, the Central Okanagan set a record for the hottest June 8 since 1948 when the thermometer recorded 34.9 C. The previous record was 32 C. Another record was expected to fall yesterday, when a high of 33 was predicted, just above the previous record of 32.8 set in 1969.
In total, 14 temperature records were broken in B.C. Monday, with most in the southern Interior.
Environment Canada meteorologist Lisa Coldwells said records were broken in the southern Interior all the way from throughout the Okanagan Valley to the Shuswap and the West Kootenays.
She said the current hot, dry weather here is expected to continue until Friday when a cold front will move south from the Chilcotin and bring with it much cooler temperatures, some cloud and possibly the odd rain shower later in the day.
She said while there would likely be strong winds late Thursday night as the cold front moves in, there is not expected to be any lightening associated with the change because it’s just too dry.
The temperature on the weekend is expected to drop down to around 21 C, much closer to the seasonal normal temperature of 23 C for early June.
The long-range forecast for Western Canada is predicting warmer and drying weather then normal in July and August