Smoke hangs thick over the mountains in Elko, where fires nearby burn freely, as the BC Wildfire Service remains unable to fight them from ground or sky due to poor visibility. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

BC Wildfire Service still unable to fly over fires burning in Flathead

A shift in wind is expected either tomorrow or Sunday

  • Sep. 7, 2017 4:25 p.m.

Alexandra Heck

Free Press Staff

The BC Wildfire Service remains unable to fight three fires burning southeast of Elko, both in the air and on the ground.

A thick blanket of smoke, mostly pouring in from heavy fires south of the border, is obscuring the Wildfire Service’s ability to monitor the fires or fight them.

BC Wildfire Service Fire Information Officer, Carlee Kachman, says that an aerial view is necessary in order to understand what is happening with the fires.

“You can’t run planes at all in this weather,” said Kachman, explaining that there has been no change on the status of the fires. “That blanket of smoke is completely covering the area and it’s impeding any air operations.”

On Friday, September 8, the Wildfire Service said they are expecting a shift in wind either tomorrow or Sunday. Kachman said that with this change, the smoke will clear the area and allow planes to fight the fire from the air. However, less smoke means less obstruction to the sun, which means that the fire will burn hotter.

“Right now we have no updated information on the fire size,” she said. “The fires are being monitored on the ground, but again, you can only see a portion of the fire at that time.”

Smoke is currently impacting all air operations on fires in the East Kootenays, and the Wildfire Service is waiting for the smoke to clear while devloping a plan to combat the fires.

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