New wildfire starts near Osoyoos, southeast B.C. warned of smoky skies

A new wildfire, called the Inkaneep Creek wildfire, has broken out six kilometres north of Osoyoos and it appears to be out of control, having more than doubled in size over a two-hour period on Monday evening.

A wide tunnel of grey smoke could be seen billowing into the sky, in video and photos taken by residents.

The fire is near Inkaneep Road, which is within Osoyoos Indian Band jurisdiction, according to the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen Emergency Services.

The suspected cause of the fire is unknown, and as of publication it’s 700 hectares, according to BC Wildfire Service.

Kyla Fraser of the Kamloops Fire Centre and BC Wildfire Service described the fires as aggressive, but said as of 6:30 p.m. there was no information available on how many people and properties are in danger.

“We’re aware that structures are threatened by this wildfire but it’s an evolving situation.”

“We’re seeing an extremely vigorous surface,” she said.

Thousands of residents in the Osoyoos and Oliver area lost power around 5 p.m., at the request of fire officials.

“Our crews are in Oliver and Osoyoos supporting local emergency services. At their request we've interrupted power to about 3000 customers due to a wildfire in the vicinity. We'll restore service once the fire department deems it is safe to do so,” reads a tweet from BC Hydro. 

Broader region already under air quality alert

B.C.’s southeast region was under a smoky skies advisory as of Monday morning, before this latest fire broke out.

“Smoke is present over much of the southern interior today with variable concentrations expected over large areas,” warns a bulletin published by several health authorities.

It also warned of poor air quality and smoky skies in the northeast of the province toward the evening and overnight.

A small town in the Western Kootenays, Castlegar, saw its air quality health risk register above 10 on Monday. B.C.’s Air Quality Health Index rates air quality based on how safe it is to do outdoor activities. A rating of 10+ means the air quality is extremely bad, and means that people should “reduce or reschedule strenuous activities outdoors,” and the vulnerable and elderly should cancel any outdoor physical activity.

There are 294 active wildfires in B.C., 13 of which have started over the past two days.