Smoky weekend in store as forest fires burn

Strong north winds will keep much of Fort St. John and the surrounding areas under a shroud of smoke this weekend, forecasters say.

There are about 40 wildfires currently burning in the Fort Nelson region, and strong and gusting north winds that began overnight have made for smoky skies in town this morning.

“That brought a lot of the smoke down from the north,” said Environment Canada forecaster technologist Greg Pearce.

“You’re going to see this smokey pattern continue for some time.”

The weather forecast today calls for strong winds gusting up to 50 kilometres an hour from the north and west .
Visibility is currently limited to about five miles due to the smoke, said Pearce.

Pearce says we may see some reprieve as winds are expected to die down later this afternoon and tonight, however, winds will whip back up again Saturday morning.

The winds are coming in behind a weak cold front of cooler air from the Northwest Territories the Yukon, Pearce said. That will also mean cool temperatures and highs around 22 C, with a peak of 25 C expected on Sunday.

So far, no air quality alert has been issued.

Calls to the Ministry of Environment were not immediately returned.

Provincial wildfire officials are grappling with more than 40 fires in the region, including two new half-hectare fires that sprung up Thursday near Goodlow and Halfway River.

Of course, the biggest fire of concern is the Petitot River fire, currently burning at around 3,700 hectares northeast of Fort Nelson. Another fire about a hectare is size is currently active near Pink Mountain.

There have been nearly 240 forest fires in the Prince George Fire Centre region this year, burning up some 70,800 hectares of land.