The smoke covering Castlegar is from fires burning in the Kamloops and Cariboo Fire Centres. (Chelsea Novak/Castlegar News)

Smoky skies over valley caused by fires in Kamloops and Cariboo Fire Centres

Most of the smoke blanketing the valley is not from local fires.

Southeast Fire Centre personnel want to assure residents that most of the smoke blanketing the valley is not from local fires.

While lightning did ignite some small fires over the weekend, all are located at high elevations and none are endangering structures or communities. The smoke is mostly from fires further north.

“If anything is threatening or of note, I will put it up as a fire of note on the website,” said Karlie Shaughnessy, fire information officer. “I’m getting quite a few calls; people are just upset about the smoke in the air and then they go onto our interactive website and then they see we have some fires, but they’re all remote, very small, not threatening. And the majority of the smoke, if not all of it, is from the Kamloops and Cariboo Fire Centres.”

Shaughnessy says we should continue to see smoke in the valleys in our region as long as winds are blowing from the north.

“So this could last weeks,” she says.

On Monday afternoon, the Ministry of Environment issued an update to a Smoky Skies Bulletin issued on Friday, increasing the area to include Kinbasket, North Columbia, West Columbia, East Columbia, Yoho Park — Kootenay Park, Elk Valley, East Kootenay, Arrow Lakes — Slocan Lake, Kootenay Lake, West Kootenay, Boundary Okanagan, Similkameen, Nicola, South Thompson, North Thompson, 100 Mile, Cariboo (North and South) and Chilcotin.

The small lightning fires that ignited over the weekend are mostly near Galena Bay and Hoder Creek (near Valhalla Provincial Park).

“The majority of them are 100 per cent contained,” said Shaughnessy.

There was also a new fire discovered on Sunday south of Taghum on Copper Mountain. The fire was 0.05 hectares as of Monday at 1 p.m.

That fire is also located at a high elevation and is not threatening any structures or communities.

To date, 128 fires have burned 132 hectares in the Southeast Fire Centre. Of those, 86 were caused by lightning and 42 were human-caused.

The five-year average for this time of year in the Southeast Fire Centre is 95 wildfires burning 427 hectares.

More information on B.C. wildfires can be found at BCWildFire.ca. Any fire that threatens structures or communities will be shown on the map as a fire of note.