Smoke from wildfires burning in the U.S. fills the air as people ride bikes down the road at Cypress Provincial Park, in West Vancouver, B.C,, on Saturday, September 12, 2020. The World Air Quality Index, a non-profit that tracks air quality from monitoring stations around the world, rated Vancouver’s air quality as the second worst in the world Saturday. Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement for Metro Vancouver, showing a very high risk to health due to wildfire smoke from Washington and Oregon. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Smoke from distant fires in U.S. pose ‘very high risk’ for air quality in B.C.

Environment Canada says children, the elderly and pregnant women should avoid spending too much time outdoors

Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement for Metro Vancouver, showing a very high risk to health due to wildfire smoke from Washington and Oregon.

The agency advised people with underlying medical conditions or serious infections such as COVID-19 to postpone or reduce activities outside.

It said people with heart and lung conditions are most affected by air pollution and the very high risk is expected to continue through at least Sunday in Metro Vancouver and elsewhere in British Columbia.

However, smoke concentrations may vary widely across the Metro Vancouver area and the Fraser Valley Regional District as winds, temperatures and wildfire behaviour change, it said.

The air quality health index ranks risk from low to high on a scale of one to 10, but the current risk goes beyond that level and is listed as 10-plus.

Environment Canada meteorologist Armel Castellan said children, the elderly and pregnant women should avoid spending too much time outdoors to protect their health.

“As for the general population, otherwise healthy adults, we’re actually recommending they reduce or actually straight up reschedule strenuous activities outdoors,” Castellan said, adding that’s particularly the case for anyone experiencing a cough or throat irritation.

Residents in Metro Vancouver and beyond have smelled smoke from fires in the U.S. for days, with a fog-like haze continuing to obscure mountains on the North Shore and the sun giving off an eerie orange glow.

Castellan said the wildfires meant Vancouver’s air quality ranked as among the worst of the world’s major cities on Saturday, along with that in Portland, Ore., and San Francisco.

Dozens of people are still missing from wildfires across the U.S. Pacific Northwest, with authorities fearing that the receding flames could reveal many more dead across the blackened landscape.

Showers expected in that region early next week are expected to help with firefighting efforts in Washington and Oregon but the news isn’t so good for those battling enormous fires in California, Castellan said.

“It’s going to do almost nothing for the California fires,” he said, adding some winds without rain may make the situation worse.

PHOTO: Satellite imagery shows origin of wildfire smoke

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

wildfire smokeWildfires

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Neil Fassina will become the new president of Okanagan College on April 1, 2021. (Contributed)
Okanagan College recruits new president

Current Athabasca University president Neil Fassina to replace Jim Hamilton on April 1, 2021

COVID-19. (Courtesy of CDC).
Interior Health reports 12 additional COVID-19 cases

The total number of cases in the region is now at 644

Princeton Mayor Spencer Coyne, speaking with NDP leader John Horgan at an event in Oliver Saturday Oct. 17. Photo contributed.
NDP promises funding for assisted living, while Liberals pledge to upgrade hospital

It was a weekend of platforms and promises, as politicians and voters… Continue reading

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

Brian Shiosaki helps his neighbours by shoveling the sidewalk near his home in Rutland during a large snowfall in Kelowna Tuesday. (Carli Berry/Capital News)
Special weather statement in effect for Okanagan Valley

The Okanagan could see up to 15 centimeters of snow on Friday

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (B.C. Government photo)
Kelowna Francophone school COVID-19 outbreak climbs to 5, mixture of students and staff

Health officer says situation evolving, spoke to possible closure, changes to provincial guidelines

Actor Ryan Reynolds surprised a Shuswap family with a special birthday message to their son who was worried he’d be alone on his 9th birthday on Nov. 24. (Tiffanie Trudell/Facebook)
Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Deadpool actor helps remind eight-year-old Canoe resident he’s not alone

RCMP detachments across B.C. are now flying Pride flags. (Submitted photo)
Man who spent 4 days injured on floor rescued by Kamloops Mountie

The man is recovering in hospital after being rescued by a police officer conducting a well-being check

A fundraiser for the Falkland Community Church is underway. (Photo submitted)
COVID-19 leaves Falkland Church in a lurch

Annual event/major fundraiser cancelled for first time in 34 years

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

Five people with alleged ties to the Red Scorpion Gang are facing numerous charges. (Kelowna RCMP)
5 men linked to Red Scorpion gang charged with gun, drug offences in Kelowna

Police seized a machine gun as well as 5.5 kilograms of fentanyl and carfentanil

The Vernon School District reports 95 per cent of its students have returned to classrooms amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star)
Fewer local, more international students help cover one Okanagan school district’s $1.2M enrolment deficit

School district projected 13 fee-paying international students; 43 enrolled

Most Read