While 12 wildfires continue to burn in the Monashee Complex — which ranges from south of Highway 6 to Three Valley Gap — officials say the worst may be over.
Now ranked the worst wildfire season in B.C.’s history with nearly 1.3 million hectares of forest burned as of Aug. 29, cooling temperatures and the declining risk of dry lightning have lead to reduced fire activity.
The Monashee Complex began with 27 wildfires blazing. Of the 12 that continue to burn, the Mabel Creek fire located approximately 47 kilometres east of Salmon Arm remains the largest at 1,370 hectares.
“A new guard is being constructed at the end of the sprinkler line and the sprinkler line is being reworked,” the Service said of their efforts to quell the blaze.
Previous closures, including to the Mabel Lake Forest Service Road closure and Cottonwood Beach, Cascades Falls and Johnston Bay recreation site, have since been lifted. However, area restrictions for crown land in the vicinity of both the Mabel Creek wildfire and the Sugar Mountain wildfire, burning at 394 hectares an estimated 59 kilometres east of Vernon, remain active and will remain in place until Sept. 15 or until they are rescinded.
Meanwhile, the Harris Creek wildfire southeast of Lumby is now considered held.
The BC Wildfire Service said Sunday afternoon that they no longer expect the wildfire to grow beyond its current perimeter.
The Harris Creek fire is an estimated 858 hectares in size. There are currently 78 firefighters and three pieces of heavy equipment battling the blaze.
“Crews will continue to direct attack on the flanks of the fire and blackline the remaining unworked sections along the east excursion,” the Service said. “Canadian Armed Forces will continue to mop-up and patrol.”
There are two helicopters assigned to the entire Monashee Complex that will be used interchangeably between wildfires depending on the need. An IMT is in place managing the response operations to the complex of wildfires.
Despite cooling temperatures and reduced fire activity across the province, Environment Canada said people should remain wary of smoke.
Special air quality statements were released for the North Okanagan Monday, Sept. 3. Smoke is expected to return heavily Wednesday, Sept. 5 with northern winds blowing smoke from the fires in Washington State.
Air quality is expected to be at a moderate level in the North Okanagan this week and children, the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions should take precautions.
Temperatures are expected to hover around 20C, hitting a high of 28C on Thursday.