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Heat, drought, smoke and COVID-19 create flurry to Nelson’s solar plexus

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
August 13th, 2021

A quadruple threat has beset the region as problems from the continued heat, smoke from forest fires, COVID-19 and drought are on the rise.

Another heat wave has lit into the West Kootenay — after a brief respite on the weekend with some rain and cooler weather — combined with stage five drought conditions to make wildfires and their inherent smoke worse for the Southeast Fire Centre.

In addition, some businesses are closing their doors (temporarily) in Nelson in the wake of COVID-19 case confirmations, with the city and the rest of Interior Health likely entering a fourth wave.

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There has been no measurable effect on water scarcity relief in the southern belt of the province despite some precipitation, noted a report from the province on the drought.

“The scattered and short-term showers over the weekend may buffer drought effects, but are not enough for water systems to recover,” the report read.

The dry and hot weather is expected to continue through to the weekend and into next week, exacerbating drought conditions for many southern areas including the West Kootenay.


There are several concerns for people looking to rinse some hooks, including the closure of some freshwater places throughout B.C. due to increased stress to fish from low flows and high-water temperatures.

Until Sept. 15 the following streams and all their tributaries are closed to fishing: Michel Creek (excluding Alexander Creek and its tributaries), Morrissey Creek, Lizard Creek, Coal Creek, Sand Creek and the St. Mary River (from the outlet of St. Mary Lake to its confluence with the Kootenay River), and all streams in management units 4-3 to 4-9 (except the main stem of the Columbia and Kootenay rivers).

As a result of the drought voluntary reduction of water usage has been encouraged.

“Voluntary water reduction already implemented in some areas has helped slow down the intensification of drought conditions and the need for regulatory action,” read a report from the provincial Water Management Branch.

In the West Kootenay the overall drought conditions are stage four — with one of Nelson’s water sources at stage five — while the Kettle Basin is the only B.C. area at stage five, “where adverse impacts” are almost certain.

“If conservation measures do not achieve sufficient results and drought conditions worsen, regulatory action may be taken under the Water Sustainability Act,” the report commented.

With a stage four designation throughout the West Kootenay, it was noted that “adverse impacts” of drought on people, fish or ecosystems were likely.

Hot hints

• For tips on how to stay safe during a heat wave, visit:

• Environment Canada Public Weather Alerts for B.C.:

• HealthLinkBC online resources about beating the heat:   

• And heat-related illness:

• And heat stroke symptoms:   

Source: Province of B.C.

Re-starting the fire

A small-scale ignition is planned for the Trozzo Creek wildfire 7.5 kilometres northeast of Winlaw.

That means more smoke — in addition to the thick, gray mass choking the skies from the fires burning around Kamloops — will be noticeable in Winlaw, Nelson, Slocan, Highway 6 and surrounding areas.

“The fire is currently burning in inaccessible terrain on the south side of the Lemon Creek drainage,” read a report from the Southeast Fire Centre on Thursday.

But the 40-hectare burn could bring the 5,871-ha. active fire’s edge to pre-existing control lines where crews could safely work and help control the blaze.
The planning process involves: identification; assessment; and mitigation of all hazards.

Although the lightning-caused fire has been characterized as active, its activity remains stable. An evacuation alert is still in effect for the fire for people living in the vicinity of the wildfire.

Resources: 92 firefighters; five helicopters; and 11 heavy equipment.

Categories: General

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