Smoke from fires south of the border has been blown north and settled into the valley, prompting Environment Canada to issue an air quality warning.
Currently the air quality rating in the Central Okanagan is at 10-plus, which is “very high risk.”
For the general population, the government agency advises, it means reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors, especially if you experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.
Those with heart and lung conditions are advised to avoid strenuous activities outdoors. Children and the elderly should also avoid outdoor physical exertion.
The high risk rating should remain in the Central Okanagan throughout Sunday, then drop to moderate risk by Monday.
Most of this smoke is drifting northward from fires in Washington State, reads a statement from BC Wildfire, noting that a temperature inversion trapped the smoke in the valley bottoms, which has resulted in poor visibility as well as the air quality issues.
Visibility issues could create a stumbling block in detection on this side of the border and BC Wildfire representatives asked that those who see a distinct column of smoke call it in to *5555.
In the meantime, the fire in Washington is getting even closer to the Canadian border with visibility issues and wind are further challenging firefighting efforts.
“The Stickpin wildfire burning in northern Ferry County, Washington, 4.5 kilometres south of the Canada-United States border is now estimated at 16,830 hectares. The BC Wildfire Service is working closely with fire agency representatives in the United States to coordinate wildfire response for this incident,” they said.
A BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Team completed preliminary reconnaissance of the northern flanks of the fire today. Sustained action crews and equipment will be arriving in Washington tonight and tomorrow morning to aid in suppression and containment of the northern flanks of this wildfire. Border Services in both countries have been supportive in expediting the deployment of firefighting resources.
Detecting new fires in this situation can be challenging due to poor visibility. If you spot a wildfire, or a distinct column of smoke, please report it to *5555 (or 1-800-663-5555 on a landline) as soon as possible. The more information we have, the more effective our response will be.
To see the current smoke forecast for western Canada, check here:http://firesmoke.ca/forecasts/BSC00WC04/current/
For information about air quality, check: http://www.bcairquality.ca
Those with health concerns should contact their local health authority.