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Sask. campers will face light wildfire smoke on May long weekend: Environment Canada

Click to play video: 'Sask. campers will face light wildfire smoke on May long weekend: Environment Canada'
Sask. campers will face light wildfire smoke on May long weekend: Environment Canada
WATCH: Provincial parks are now open to campers just in time for the long weekend. Our Trillian Reynoldson has more on the current fire restrictions and what campers can do to stay safe. – May 16, 2024

Saskatchewan campers should be cautious of light smoke that might be hanging in the air this May long weekend, according to Environment Canada.

“Certainly, there is probably going to be that lower level of smoke in the atmosphere floating around, but the really thick smoke like what we saw on the weekend, probably not,” said Terri Lang with Environment Canada on Tuesday

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan enters heart of wildfire season just weeks into spring'
Saskatchewan enters heart of wildfire season just weeks into spring

She said forecasting smoke is notoriously difficult.

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“It depends so much on what is happening in the upper atmosphere, what’s happening in the lower atmosphere and what’s happening with the fires because fires don’t necessarily put out the same amount of smoke all the time.”

Lang said smoke can be dangerous for people with pre-existing medical conditions and breathing conditions.

“The best thing they can do is be inside,” she said.

Lang said temperatures this summer are forecasted to be above average. A precipitation forecast hasn’t been finalized.

“We had a whole summer last year of smoke, so I think people should be prepared for that again and understand what their risks are and know what to do.”

With Saskatchewan libraries offering free regional park passes again this year, campers should check weather advisories before heading out.

“It’s good to get outdoors as much as possible, but especially with the risks of smoke inhalation for older people, younger people, or even for pets, stay alert and stay safe,” said Saskatchewan Library Association president James Hope Howard.

He said each year it seems like the smoke arrives a little bit earlier, noting several areas in the north have already been on standby for evacuation.

Click to play video: 'Is recent rain in Saskatchewan dousing wildfire and drought concerns?'
Is recent rain in Saskatchewan dousing wildfire and drought concerns?

Quinn Barber, researcher with Canadian Forest Services said Saskatchewan is currently in a severe drought and that some fires from last year have held over into spring.

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“The fire didn’t actually go out in some places over the winter,” he said. “It burns under the snow and smoulders as a small pocket of heat and then when the snow comes off in the spring, that fire restarts all on its own.”

As of Tuesday, Barber said there are nine small, active fires burning in Saskatchewan. There are also nine burning in Manitoba, including a larger one just across the border near Flin Flon, MB that contributed to some of the haze over Saskatchewan on the weekend.

“It’s 36,000 hectares at the moment,” Barber said.

He said some smoky weekends can be expected this summer, but hopefully not as bad as last year, calling 2023 a “statistically exceptional scenario.”

Barber said for people out camping this weekend, that enough water to put out a small fire should always be kept on hand.

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