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Smoke enters Okanagan from large Washington Wildfire

Smoke enters Okanagan from large Washington Wildfire

A large wildfire in the Omak, WA. area is causing heavy smoke in Osoyoos and the rest of the Okanagan Valley. 

The Cold Springs fire started around 9:45 p.m. Sunday night. 

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources stated that the fire is estimated to be around 56,600 hectares — over 500 square kilometres — and is zero per cent contained as of Tuesday. 

The fire is spreading quickly to the southwest due to high winds and low humidity. Cause of the fire is still under investigation. 

Road closures are in effect along Highway 97 and Columbia river road south of the U.S./Canada border, and and evacuation order is in place for Cameron Lake, about 15 minutes south of Omak. The fire has already destroyed several structures and many more remained threatened. It has also caused power outages, including phone and internet in Okanogan county. 

Currently there are 200 firefighters on the ground fighting the blaze, with air supported scheduled for today. Crews will focus on structure protection, and containment lines while also focusing on assessing the fire.  Firefighters from Mt. Tolman Fire Center, Okanogan County Fire Districts 3, 6, 8, 15, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources are involved with fighting the fire. 

More information can be found here. 

The smoke from the wildfires has impacted air quality levels throughout much of southern B.C. including the Island, coastal mainland, the Okanagan, the Kootenays and boundary.

Environment Canada is reminding residents that during a wildfire, smoke conditions can change quickly over short distances and can vary considerably hour by hour.

People with pre-existing health conditions, respiratory infections such as COVID-19, older adults, pregnant women and infants, children, and sensitive individuals are more likely to experience health effects from smoke exposure.

If you or those in your care are exposed to wildfire smoke, consider taking extra precautions to reduce exposure, Environment Canada recommends.

For more information on current air quality click here.

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