Late-evening celestial light show
keeps firefighters scrambling

Osoyoops firefighters collectively ponder a transformer reportedly struck by lightning late Monday evening.

An intense thunderstorm that passed through the South Okanagan Tuesday evening had plenty of residents watching overhead from their porches and decks.

But it also kept firefighters in the area busy as well.

“The calls started coming in between 10 and 10:30,” said Osoyoos Fire Chief Dave McMahon. “That lightning storm came through and it was pretty amazing just to observe.”

Firefighters responded to several calls of potential transformer strikes on Lobelia and Jasmine Drives.

“It didn’t cause a fire and we didn’t have down lines, which was helpful, but Kelowna dispatch was lit up and Fortis was super busy, so we couldn’t get anybody to respond,” said Chief McMahon. “We were out attending to make sure nothing was bubbling away.

Anarchist crew kept busy as well

The Anarchist Mountain Fire Department, meanwhile — on the heels of several small fires caused by lightning strikes Monday afternoon — was out in force again last night after the storm rolled through around 9 p.m.

“We had two fires last night and another early this morning,” reported Chief Urs Grob. He added he is expecting more calls today.

“We had lots of strikes on the mountain, so we expect we’ll have more reports of smoke today,” he said. “It’s wet so it may take time to develop.”

Chief McMahon said he also responded to a report of a wildfire near Spotted Lake, but couldn’t find anything.

“There’s a good chance there probably was (a fire) but with the precipitation and the wet ground that we had overnight helped dampen it back down.

“We’ll see over the next few hours if anything gets going anywhere.”

According to the BC Wildfire Service, the vast majority of naturally-caused wildfires in the province are ignited by lightning.

When lightning strikes, it can create enough heat to ignite a tree or other fuel source — and a fire might occur immediately.

“Even as much as a few days,” explained Chief McMahon defining the time between a strike and a fire.

“There’s a tremendous amount of energy in these lightning strikes. It gets into the ground, it can burn and smoulder in the ground and then if the venting index goes back to favourable propagation it can start to get going.”

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