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‘We’ve never seen anything like this’: smoky skies ground multiple flights in Kelowna

FILE: A tanker circles overhead before dropping retardant while battling the Shovel Lake wildfire near Fraser Lake, B.C. on Friday August 17, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

KELOWNA (NEWS 1130) — Kelowna International Airport saw multiple flight cancellations and delays due to the thick smoke covering the region as hundreds of wildfires continue to burn across B.C.

“We’re accustomed to dealing with low cloud cover in the winter months, etc. but we’ve never seen anything like this,” said Sean Parker, the on-call airport manager.

RELATED: Air quality at multiple B.C. communities at ‘very high risk’

He said the heavy smoke created unexpected challenges.

“It comes down to visibility, we were running as low as a half mile this morning and that’s not sufficient for aircraft to get a visual reference as they are approaching the airfield,” Parker said.

Travellers are being asked to be patient and check their flight status online.

Parker said they are expecting conditions to improve, but noted it’s very difficult to assess.

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“It’s getting better but smoke is a bit unpredictable, we are anticipating some clearing over the next few days but it’s going to be very weather-dictated.”

He said staff had anticipated smoke from the wildfires but they never thought it would be so dense.