Diamond Creek Fire burns into Canada

Above: The image shows heat detected by a satellite August 31 and September 1, 2017. The red dots are the most recent, early Friday morning.

The Diamond Creek Fire in the Pasayten Wilderness in the Okanogan/Wenatchee National Forest has crossed the Washington/British Columbia border and spread three miles into Canada. The Incident Management Team reports the total size of the fire is over 52,000 acres.

A magic trick, or a peat fire?

This almost looks like a magic trick, but it shows what can happen with very deep-seated fires, such as peat. Smouldering underground with limited oxygen, the very hot material and gasses can transition into flaming combustion once introduced to an atmosphere with a higher concentration of oxygen.

Mesmerizing.

“Let’s be careful out there”.

Watch smoke from Canadian wildfires get blown over the North Atlantic Ocean

Scientists have tracked smoke plumes that have circumnavigated the Earth multiple times.

Protecting a historic site above the Arctic Circle

In recent weeks a wildfire in northern Yukon Territory on the Alaskan border threatened the Rampart House historic site. It occurred at 67 degrees North Latitude, which is about the same distance from the equator as the fires burning in Greenland.

Rampart House was the location of one of the first encounters of traders, missionaries, and police with the native people of the region. The archaeological resources and 21 historic structures are cooperatively owned and managed by the Yukon Government and the Vuntut Gwichin First Nation.

Rampart House

Doug Cote was assigned to the fire and sent us these photos along with this description:

A number of fires threatened the site over the two week period we were there.  Once our trigger points were breached we pulled out our fall back ignition plan which went off like text book. Aerial ignition from above and hand ignition on the ground for close to 2km along the base of the slopes above the site.  The area should be safe from fires for a good long while now.

There were a number of large fires burning north of the arctic circle in Alaska and Canada’s north west this summer with higher than average temperatures and higher than average amounts of lightning.  It would be real interesting to crunch the numbers and see the total burned area and how it compares to previous years and whether there is any evidence of an upwards trend.

Rampart House Rampart House

Thanks Doug!

128 active wildfires in British Columbia as firefighters from North America and Australia arrive to help

Above: Map showing heat detected by a satellite in southern British Columbia at 2:51 a.m. MDT August 9, 2017.

(Updated at 5 p.m. MDT August 9, 2017)

The wildfire situation in British Columbia has not gotten any better in the last several days. Currently there are 128 active wildfires in the province, with four of them being larger than 50,000 hectares (123,000 acres). The largest, the Hanceville Riske Creek Fire, is getting closer to half a million acres each day.

Since April 1, approximately 591,280 hectares (1,461,082 acres) have burned in 900 fires in BC.

  • Hanceville Riske Creek, 172,000 hectares (425,000 acres) approximately 60 km southwest of Williams Lake.
  • Elephant Hill, 117,000 hectares (289,000 acres), near Ashcroft.
  • Tautri Lake, 76,000 hectares (188,000 acres), 80 km northwest of Williams Lake.
  • Baezaeko River-Quesnel West, 53,000 hectares (131,000 acres).

More than 400 additional firefighters from Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and the US are expected to arrive in BC this week. Other firefighters from Australia have been in the province for a couple of weeks. More than 100 firefighters arrived from Mexico since Saturday of last week. No resources have been ordered or dispatched to Canada through the United States National Interagency Coordination Center, but   the Great Lakes Interstate Forest Fire Compact mobilized a crew to Ontario that is now in British Columbia, and Massachusetts sent personnel across the border. Of course the northwestern one-quarter of the United States is pretty busy with their own fires.

Massachusetts firefighters British Columbia
Firefighters from Massachusetts board an aircraft on the way to the Elephant Hill Fire near Ashcroft, British Columbia. Photo by Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation.
NSWRFS firefighters British Columbia
On Tuesday U.S. time 40 firefighters from Australia’s New South Wales Rural Fire Service joined 60 others from across the continent as they began their travel to British Columbia. Screenshot from NSWRFS video.

Smoke from wildfires in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana has created seriously degraded air quality off and on in those areas, at times reaching the “unhealthy” level according to air quality officials.

Air quality southern BC Washington Oregon
Air quality, southern BC, Washington, and Oregon.
Air Quality map
Legend for the above Air Quality map.

Maps of wildfires and smoke in the U.S. Northwest and British Columbia

Above: Satellite photo showing wildfire smoke in the northwestern United States and British Columbia August 6, 2017. The red dots represent heat.

wildfire smoke map
Graphic representation of the distribution of wildfire smoke in the U.S. and Canada, August 6, 2017. Click to enlarge.