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.

Wildfire smoke produces haze over much of British Columbia and the U.S. Northwest

Above: Satellite photo of smoke from wildfires in the U.S. Northwest and Southern British Columbia, August 5, 2017. The red dots represent heat detected by the satellite.

(Updated at 6:50 p.m. MDT August 5, 2017 to add the more current satellite photo above.)

Smoke from wildfires in Southern British Columbia continues to pour across the border into Washington and other states in the U.S. Northwest. The air quality in Washington is the worst that residents have seen in recent years, reaching unhealthy levels in some areas according to agencies that monitor particulates and other pollutants.

Currently there are 110 active wildfires in British Columbia — four of them are larger than 50,000 hectares (123,000 acres):

  • Hanceville Riske Creek, 148,000 hectares (365,000 acres) approximately 60 km southwest of Williams Lake.
  • Elephant Hill, 110,000 hectares (272,000 acres), near Ashcroft.
  • Tautri Lake, 73,000 hectares (180,000 acres), 80 km northwest of Williams Lake.
  • Baezaeko River-Quesnel West, 55,000 hectares (135,000 acres).

Below is a gallery of maps and graphics showing the location of the fires, air quality, and smoke. Click on an image to see a larger version and start a slide show. Captions are in the top-left corner.

Over 100 active wildfires in British Columbia

Above: Satellite photo taken August 2, 2017 showing smoke from some of the wildfires in British Columbia. The red dots represent heat detected by a sensor on the satellite

(Originally published at 9:50 p.m. MDT August 2, 2017)

Firefighters in British Columbia are dealing with over 100 wildfires that are larger than 0.01 hectare. The location for four of the largest can be seen on the map below which shows heat detected by a satellite on Wednesday.

map fires in British Columbia
Map showing heat from fires in British Columbia detected by a satellite at 3:12 p.m. MDT August 2, 2017. Click to enlarge.

Here are very brief of summaries of four of the largest fires:

  • Hanceville-Riske Creek, 60 kilometers southwest of Williams Lake. The Hanceville and the Riske Creek Fires are being managed as one. Together they have burned 134,000 hectares (331,000 acres).
  • Quesnel West, 4 km north of the Baezaeko River. 36,000 HA (88,000 acres).
  • Tautri Complex, 85 km northwest of Williams Lake. 64,000 HA (84,000 acres).
  • Elephant Hill, near Ashcroft. 84,000 HA. (207,000 acres).

The weather forecast for Ashcroft near the Elephant Hill fire looks grim for firefighters —  over 100F every day for the next week with the relative humidity around 20 percent or below. It looks better for Williams Lake with highs in the high 80’s and low 90’s with the relative humidity in the mid-20’s.

Elephant Hill Fire in British Columbia grows to 194,000 acres

The fire has been burning near Cache Creek, BC since July 6, 2017.

Above: Satellite photo showing the location wildfires in British Columbia and Alberta, July 31, 2017. The red dots represent heat detected by the satellite.

(Originally published at 7:32 p.m. MDT July 31, 2017)

Currently there are many wildfires burning in British Columbia and Alberta. One of them is a megafire just east of Clinton, north and south of Cache Creek, and about 50 miles northwest of Kamloops. I’m not sure if it’s the Mother of All Fires, for this year anyway, but so far it has covered 78,548 hectares (194,096 acres). The BC Wildfire Service says that number is probably low, since the visibility has prevented them from conducting mapping flights for a day or two.

(More recent information about the Elephant Hill Fire and other fires in British Columbia was posted August 2, 2017.)

The recent warmer and drier weather has contributed to increased growth in recent days. On Sunday most of the spread was on the north and west sides.  The objective on the west flank is to remove excess fuel ahead of the fire, keep it south of the Bonaparte River, and slow the aggressive fire behavior. Night shift crews are working from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. to reinforce firelines.

Structure protection personnel, engines, and equipment are assigned 24 hours a day. They are working across the fire to conduct property assessments, establish sprinkler systems on structures, and protect values where needed.

Elephant Hill Fire map
Satellite photo showing smoke on the Elephant Hill Fire northwest of Kamloops, July 31, 2017. The red dots represent heat detected by the satellite.

The community of Clinton and areas to the northeast including Green Lake have been evacuated.

Resources assigned to the fire include 20 helicopters and 69 pieces of heavy equipment for a total of 359 firefighters.

The map below was current July 28, 2017.

Elephant fire map

1 in 5 firefighters on 2016 Fort McMurray Fire suffered from respiratory problems

Fort McMurray fire, May 16
Fort McMurray fire, May 16, 2016. NASA.

Some firefighters who fought the 1,500,000-acre Fort McMurray Fire that burned 2,400 homes in Alberta last year also battled respiratory and mental health issues.

Below is an excerpt from a CBC news article:

The University of Alberta study surveyed 355 firefighters and found a “very large proportion” of them complained of respiratory issues including coughing, breathlessness, wheezing and chest tightness in the immediate aftermath of the fire.

“When we saw them later, probably about one in five of those still had problems with their chests that they felt had been caused or made worse by the fire,” said Nicola Cherry, the epidemiologist leading the study.

And they’re battling more than just physical ailments — mental-health issues affect one in six of study participants.

“When we collected this information, it was early days and people may develop bigger issues as time goes forward,” Cherry said.

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Articles on Wildfire Today tagged Fort McMurray Fire.

Precipitation reduces wildfire smoke in the central U.S.

Above: Snow cover in the United States, November 18, 2016. The Weather Channel.

Precipitation in the northwest quarter of the United States this week has put even more of a damper on the occurrence of wildfires, the execution of prescribed fires, and agricultural burning.

After weeks of warm, dry weather the Black Hills finally received a little precipitation over the last 24 hours. I won’t know the exact amount at my house until the snow in the rain gauge melts, but there was an inch or two of the white stuff on the ground. Today is sunny with a high of 32 predicted, so maybe it will trickle through the tipping bucket this afternoon.

snow rain gauge
Snow captured by my rain gauge since Thursday afternoon. Photo at 11 a.m. MT November 18, 2016 by Bill Gabbert.

Small amounts of precipitation in southern Saskatchewan may be the reason smoke from that area is no longer immigrating into the United States, as you can see in the two maps below. The first one was the smoke forecast for November 15 and the one after that is for today, November 18.

wildfire smoke forecast
Prediction for the distribution of smoke from wildfires at 6 p.m. ET, November 15, 2016. Produced at 7 a.m. ET November 15.
wildfire smoke forecast
Forecast for wildfire smoke at 6 p.m. ET November 18, 2016, created at 1 a.m. ET November 18, 2016.

However, prescribed fires, wildfires, or agricultural burning in Louisiana, Arkansas, and eastern Texas are still producing large quantities of smoke that at times moves north into the midwest.

No rain is predicted until the middle of next week for the areas where wildfires are smoking out the residents in some areas of Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina.

24 hour precipitation
Accumulated precipitation estimated by radar over the 24 hours before 7:07 a.m. ET November 18, 2016.