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 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

The Parksville Community Centre. (PQB News file photo)
City of Parksville offers update on closure of community centre

‘Increasing operating costs and annual subsidies provided by the city have been a concern’

Homeless people in Parksville Qualicum Beach are without a designated cold-weather shelter. (PQB News file photo)
Qualicum Beach council looks to solve area’s cold-weather shelter problem

Harrison: ‘It’s likely that there will be a hard winter for a lot of folks’

Qualicum Beach artist Deb Peters at the Gallery at the Qualicum Art Supply, Nov. 30 (Mandy Moraes photo)
Qualicum Beach painter Deb Peters discusses the power of art

‘If you’re given the ability to create something, you need to pass it on to people’

(File art)
Qualicum school district looks to form climate action plan

‘We’re in the right place at the right time’

Mick Sherlock visits the PQB News/VI Free Daily studios. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: Talking music with Billy Shakespeare’s Mick Sherlock

Podcast: Qualicum Beach musician came to area from Calgary

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

(Needpix.com)
Pandemic has ‘exacerbated’ concerns for B.C. children and youth with special needs: report

Pandemic worsened an already patchwork system, representative says

Janet Austin, the lieutenant-governor of British Columbia, not seen, swears in Premier John Horgan during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Horgan says he will look to fill gaps in the federal government’s sick-pay benefits program aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. premier says province prepared to patch holes in new federal sick-pay benefits

Horgan said workers should not be denied pay when they are preventing COVID-19’s spread

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

Most Read