Another wildfire smoke advisory was issued for the Kamloops area Tuesday as smoke from a 155-hectare fire near Merritt worsened an already moderate air quality hazard.
The Matthew Creek blaze 50 kilometres south of Merritt has been burning since Sunday night when an isolated thunderstorm hit the area.
Prevailing winds blew its smoke over to Kamloops Tuesday afternoon, which added to the haze that's been hanging over the City since Friday from wildfires in the U.S. and Russia.
"If you look out the window right now you can actually see what looks like an elevated plume of smoke that has ripples in it," said Ralph Adams, Ministry of Environment air quality meteorologist. "If you can see the ripples, it's usually an indication that it hasn't travelled that far. By the time smoke travels thousands of kilometres, it's beautifully even and dispersed."
Adams advises locals to avoid strenuous outdoor activities and watch for difficulty breathing, chest pain, sudden coughing fit or throat irritation.
Exposure is particularly hazardous for infants, the elderly and those with medical conditions.
The smoke is expected to hang around for at least the next few days as weather forecasts show a stable pattern until cooler temperatures arrive Monday, said Adams.
The Matthew Creek fire was initially thought to be about 50 hectares in size, but dissipating smoke allowed Kamloops Fire Centre crews to fly over Tuesday afternoon and provide a more accurate assessment of 155 hectares.
The blaze has attracted 60 firefighters, two helicopters with water tenders and a bulldozer helping to build a guard so it remains contained to its current 50 hectares.
"It's burning in a fairly remote area," said fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek. "There aren't any structures or values threatened at this time."
Meanwhile, Monday night's nerve-wracking lightning storm came with heavy rain, said relieved Kamloops Fire Centre personnel, so the resulting 18 wildfires were easy to beat back.
"All the fires were spot size so well under a hectare," said Skrepnek. "Thankfully a lot more precipitation came through in those areas than what we'd expected, which helped snuff them out and keep them small."
However a lightning strike can smoulder in dense brush for up to a week and flare up when conditions get dry enough.
"We probably aren't out of the woods in terms of the big picture," he said.
Hundreds of lightning bolts hit within the triangle of Barnhartvale, Pinantan Lake and Monte Creek, according to Jim Steele of Environment Canada, while 10 or 15 strikes landed in central Kamloops.
Most fires ignited from Kelowna west to Merritt while one flared up briefly near Chase and another near Monte Creek. Three person crews and a bush truck attended each incident accompanied by an air tanker for two of the deployments.
As much as nine millimetres of rain fell in parts of Kamloops over the storm's hour long duration. And gusts reached 63 km/h at the airport, but were much stronger in other areas like Mission Flats where trees were toppled, said Steele.
With the storm behind us, hot and sunny weather is expected for the next four days.
"Mother Nature's tantrum is done," said Steele. "Now we're back to this high pressure, pretty docile type pattern, 35 C or so right through Saturday."
Temperatures are expected to cool by Monday.
There may be one hiccup however. Signs indicate a possibility of clouds late Thursday which, compounded with hot weather, could shake things up.
"I'm not losing sleep over it, but I'm a little nervous about that Thursday cloud. With any luck it will track south and be weak and won't bother us at all," said Steele.
"It doesn't take much to upset the air mass. When you get temperatures in the mid-30s, you bring in a little bit of moisture and it stirs up the mid level atmosphere and suddenly the air starts rising and it's like a pot that starts to boil over."