BC wildfire smoke prompts air quality warnings in Western Canada

Posted August 21, 2018

Areas such as Squamish, Whistler, Nanaimo/Parksville and Castlegar also have a 10-plus air-quality rating.

Windy conditions and wildfire smoke have hit the Inland Northwest hard as air quality levels rose throughout the day, ending up in the hazardous range Sunday evening.

Officials recommend staying inside with windows closed and air conditioners set to recirculate.

As of Monday morning, Environment Canada considered Calgary's air quality to be at a 4, moderate risk, on the air quality health index.

The Southwest Clean Air Agency and Washington State Department of Ecology have continued an air quality advisory that will remain in effect until noon Wednesday for Clark County and other nearby counties.

Planes at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport were grounded for a few hours Sunday due to low visibility, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. "If it's not fitted correctly, all it does is make it harder to breathe", she said.

The BC Wildfire Service says about 550 fires are burning in the province, but there weren't many lightning strikes over the weekend and that gave crews a chance to concentrate on some of the 54 blazes now threatening people or property. Approximately 6,000 people living near active fires have been told to leave their homes, while more than 11,000 people have been warned that evacuations could be ordered.

The poor air quality can be especially unsafe for people with preexisting heart conditions.

Changes in wind direction have brought over more smoke to the area from wildfires around northern and central Washington, as well as from British Columbia.