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Thursday August 10, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

Ski resorts are threatened & it's impacting on summer tourism. They are the worst wildfires in 20 years as PlanetSKI reports from Canada. UPDATED

There is the highest fire risk in two decades with parts of British Columbia worst affected. 

Here in BC there have been 840 separate fires since April.  

4,260 km2 has been destroyed - an area about 1/5th the size of Wales.  

Currently almost 4,000 fire fighters are tackling 130 blazes with extra crews drafted in from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick.  

108 fire fighters have just arrived from further afield - from Mexico.  

Wildfires rageWildfires rage

Satellite photo of the fires and their smokeSatellite photo of the fires and their smoke

300 structures have been destroyed including 138 homes and 116 outbuildings.  

I have just driven along Highway One between the ski resorts of Kicking Horse and Revelstoke.

Helicopters are battling the new blaze.

Helicopters water bombing the fire between Revelstoke and Kicking HorseHelicopters water bombing the fire between Revelstoke and Kicking Horse

Across much of BC and Alberta smoke hangs in the air even though the fires may be many kms away. 

Canada wildfiresCanada wildfires

The last few days I have been staying in a remote cabin on the shores of the Little Shuswap lake by the town of Chase near Kamloops in central British Columbia. 

The smoke is in evidence according to which direction the wind is blowing and it changes quickly.  

Smoky in the morningSmoke in the morning

Clear by the afternoonClear by the afternoon

Fortunately the fires are not directly threatening this area but it is having an impact.  

The air quality at Kamloops, 60 kms away, is the worst in recorded history.  

There is a local fire of 80,000 hectares and further smoke is reportedly coming from another fire further south over the border in the US state of Washington. 

Smoke in the airSmoke in the air


Smoke on the waterSmoke on the water

A few weeks ago in mid-July we were in Banff in Alberta as the nearby ski resort of Sunshine Village was affected: This week the resort was evacuated as the wildfire threatened again:
Other ski resorts have also been affected including Sun Peaks near Kamloops.  

Across BC the ski resorts of Red and Whitewater have also been shrouded in smoke.

The town of Nelson is near to White Water and the fire fighters have been impeded as thieves stole a water pump and 10 lengths of hose, each measuring 30m.   

They were battling the Harrop Creek wildfire. 

Highway 93 from BC to Banff in Alberta has been closed in both directions as the fire threatens the road.

6,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in the recent fires, but so far there are no reports of any deaths or serious injury.  

People are being advised to reduce outdoor activities especially children, the elderly and those with breathing difficulties.  

Ski resorts and other tourist centres have seen cancellations but here at PlanetSKI I am delighted to say that we have not needed to change our plans.  

So we haven't.  

We have still had a fabulous road trip across Alberta and British Columbia and advise anyone else heading this way for a summer holiday to stick to their plans unless the advice from the authorities is otherwise.  

There is still plenty to do and the fires have had limited impact.

Here is what we have been up to in the past few weeks:

The smoke is not everywhere and certainly not present all the time.

Beautiful BC at its bestBeautiful BC at its best
















The current advice from BC Wildfire is simple: 

"Anyone who sees open flames or a distinct column of smoke should call the emergency services toll-free as soon as possible and provide as much detail as possible.

Smoke concentrations can vary widely depending on the wind activity, fire behaviour and changes in temperature.

Hot and dry conditions are in the forecast for the next few days and could lead to an increase in fire activity." 

So, why is it so bad this summer? 

First of all the ground is very dry - despite the huge amounts of snow that fell last winter. 

Tinder box dryTinder box dry

It has also been very warm and humid with little rain.  

Hot and humidHot and humid


Many of the fires have been started naturally by lightening, but some have been started by man and there is now an open fire ban across British Columbia and Alberta.

Warnings are in place across the area. 

Open fires bannedOpen fires banned


On a drive from Kamloops to Roger's Pass there was smoke hanging in the air for the 3-hour drive.

Wildfires in British ColumbiaWildfires in British Columbia

It was clear at the top of Rogers Pass.

Wildfires in British ColumbiaWildfires in British Columbia

But just over the brow of the hill more fires burnt.

Wildfires in British ColumbiaWildfires in British Columbia

As the fires continue to burn in the mountains of Canada we'll keep you posted here at PlanetSKI...  

The Rockies from the airThe Rockies from the air

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news

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