Here comes the smoke again -and coming fast! #bcwildfires

— Fred Legace (@planoize) August 19, 2017

The fire season? All you need to know is that the provincial government declared a state of emergency on July 7. On Friday, that state of emergency was extended through Sept. 1.

After a clear and warm Friday, the winds came up late in the afternoon and smoke rolled back into Kamloops in the early evening hours.

The weekend forecast is for gusting winds and thunderstorms, so the firefighters are anticipating a lot of activity on the front lines.

Stay safe!

If you want some numbers . . . As of Friday at 1 p.m., the province had lost 902,000 hectares to fires. The number is likely to rise with better mapping, too. . . . There were 145 fires burning, with seven of those listed as new. . . . The B.C. Wildfire Service’s costs are now at $329.7 million. . . . There were 4,403 people out of their homes, with more than 20,000 others living under evacuation alerts. . . . The Hanceville-Riske Lake fire is at 218,000 hectares, while the Elephant Hill blaze stayed at 168,000 ha. . . . A windy weekend will change those numbers in a big way, though.

On Friday night, the Cariboo Regional District issued an evacuation order for the Tatla Lake and Kleena Kleene areas, both of which are west of Williams Lake. Tatla Lake had been under an evacuation alert since July 14; Kleena Kleene since Aug. 4.

G Quinton Howden (Moose Jaw, 2007-12) has signed a one-year contract with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL). Last season, he was pointless in five games with the Winnipeg Jets (NHL), and had 13 goals and 11 assists in 58 games with the Manitoba Moose (AHL). . . .

D Jordan Rowley (Kamloops, Prince Albert, 2005-11) signed a one-year contract with the Pelicans Lahti (Finland, Liiga). Last season, he had four goals and 15 assists in 51 games with Vita Hästen Norrköping (Sweden, Allsvenskan). Rowley’s contract with Pelicans includes a tryout period. If the tryout period is a success, the contract converts to a one-year contract.

The Calgary Flames and Medicine Hat Tigers have made official speculation that was mentioned here on Aug. 12. Darren Kruger, the Tigers’ senior director of player development, has joined the Flames as an amateur scout who will spend most of his time in the WHL’s Eastern Conference. . . . Kruger, 48, had been with the Tigers since 2006, first as an assistant coach, then as associate coach, before stepping into his latest role prior to the 2014-15 season. . . . Kruger took over as senior director of player development after Brad McEwen left the Tigers to join the Flames’ scouting staff. McEwen left the Flames earlier this summer and now is Hockey Canada’s head scout.

Meanwhile, the Seattle Thunderbirds announced Friday that Dan McLean, their director of scouting, has joined the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins as an amateur scout. . . . That was reported here earlier this week. . . . McLean had been with the Thunderbirds for 21 seasons, the last two as director of scouting. . . . With the Penguins, McLean will be responsible for scouting the WHL. . . . Speculation is that the Thunderbirds won’t replace McLean, at least not now, instead choosing to spread his workload around one or two people already in their organization.

If you’re into rankings, Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News has issued his first look at potential first-round selections for the NHL’s 2018 draft. With the Vegas Golden Knights now in the NHL, the first round will comprise 31 selections, so Kennedy presents his first Top 31. A word of warning for WHL fans, though — your league has only two players on Kennedy’s list. D Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs is at No. 9, with D Jett Woo of the Moose Jaw Warriors ranked 15th. . . . Kennedy has Swedish D Rasmus Dahlin atop his list, which is right here.

Dan O’Connor and Hartley Miller were a team on Prince George Cougars broadcasts through the past four seasons. However, O’Connor has left Prince George for a position with the Vancouver Giants. In his weekly column, Miller looks back and glances ahead, and it’s all right here.

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In honor of Ken Wiebe's Double Aces. #MBGolfTour

— dr Media Productions (@drMediaPro) August 18, 2017

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