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If you looked into the skies over Penticton Saturday afternoon, chances are you saw a thick band of smoke hovering across the entire valley, running from southwest to northeast.
You may have wondered where that smoke originated.
We did too. We've seen this before when a brand new fire hits. So we went looking.
We knew the temps have been warmer (almost 30 degrees in Penticton Saturday) and the winds higher in the past couple days. It seemed like the perfect recipe for stirring up old foes that were otherwise on their way out, like the Upper Park Rill Creek fire (discovered Aug. 18) between Twin Lakes and Willowbrook and the Crater Creek fire (discovered July 22) near Keremeos.
And it apparently was.
We took these shots of the remnants of the Upper Park Rill Creek wildfire late Saturday afternoon. The hot spot has moved several kilometers south of the fire's origin point and had recently been looking rather placid.
But today the smoke was darker and quite a bit more prevalent. Granted, just a couple of helicopters continued to work the fire, a situation that hasn’t changed much in the past few days. And it remains confined to a high elevation.
Still, the smoke pouring out of it Saturday certainly contributed to what we saw over Penticton.
As did smoke from the Crater Creek fire west of Keremeos, which also refuses to die.
We spotted a rather impressive wall of smoke in the distance at the Yellow Lake Rest Stop on Hwy 3A, so we drove on to Keremeos where the sky was wonderfully clear.
But driving further west on Hwy 3 put us in the midst of what was clearly a very heavy smoke day -- the aftermath of which drifted slowly northward from the Similkameen to Okanagan Valley and settled over Penticton.
Given that there have been no reports in the immediate region of new wildfires over the past 48 hours -- other than a small blaze near Peachland discovered Saturday evening -- we believe we found our culprits.
But it is a reminder that fire season remains with us. And we hope the days ahead produce some much-needed rain.