Smoky haze blankets central Island

NANAIMO – Wildfires in western U.S. waft dense haze over central Island.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, but sometimes the blaze can be a long way off.

The heavy haze, blocking the view of coastal mountain ranges from Nanaimo, is coming from huge wildfires burning across the western U.S., said Marg Drysdale, B.C. Coastal Fire Centre spokeswoman.

“There’s multiple fires across the western United States right now,” Drysdale said. “A lot of them are very large fires. People assume it’s just the Colorado fire, but they’re getting hammered down there.”

Smoke over northern B.C. also followed the jet stream across the Pacific Ocean from about 190 wildfires burning in Siberia.

But Doug Lundquist, Environment Canada meteorologist, said those fires would only contribute a light, even haze in the upper atmosphere. Most of the low-altitude, heavy smoke was carried into B.C. by air flowing north out of Arizona.

“With the flow pattern in the lower part of the atmosphere and a strong inversion aloft, we couldn’t see how that Asian air could make it down to the surface,” Lundquist said.

A growing wildfire southeast of Merritt, B.C., is also contributing thicker smoke accumulations in the central Interior.

“Most of the smoke in B.C. probably came from south of the border and now some is home grown,” Lundquist said.

Smoke accumulating over the province prompted air quality warnings in B.C. interior communities.

Lundquist said air that started flowing in from the Pacific Ocean this week is clearing smoke from the coast.

As last weekend heated up, several small wildfires were sparked across the south B.C. coast, including one spot fire near Nanaimo.

Drysdale said a spot fire near Nanaimo Lakes Road and South Forks Road was triggered by a burning car shortly before 6 p.m. Sunday. A spot fire is a wild fire under 0.009 hectares in size.

“It was a small fire that moved into the trees,” Drysdale said.

A three-person forest ministry firefighting crew was dispatched to the area to knock down the blaze and was assisted by Extension Volunteer Fire Department.

“It was called in by the public,” Drysdale said. “It’s always wonderful when they take the time to do that.”

Fire crews were sent to the same area again Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. to hose down a small row boat.

Nanaimo RCMP said the boat was found smoking on Nanaimo Lakes Road, just past the South Forks Road intersection and appeared to have been dragged onto the road from a gate nearby.

So far, police have no suspects and the investigation into the fire is continuing.


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