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Air quality advisory lifted for Metro Vancouver

WATCH (above): Fire expert Bruce Blackwell joins Steve and Sophie to talk about the conditions in B.C.

UPDATE: July 10 – The air quality advisory has been lifted for Metro Vancouver.

Coverage from July 7:

A smokey haze continues to hang above Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, keeping an air quality advisory still in effect today.

According to the latest Air Quality Health Index, the rating has been downgraded to 2, which is lower than the ratings Metro Vancouver has experienced over the past few days. Roger Quan, director of air quality for Metro Vancouver, said conditions worsened Monday as the smell of smoke permeated some parts of the region.

People living in Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Howe Sound and the Sunshine Coast are being warned about the concentrations of fine particulate in the air. The levels are the highest in Whistler and Squamish. A special air quality advisory is now in effect for Whistler.

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B.C.’s Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, Steve Thomson, says this is the most challenging wildfire situation he has ever seen. There are approximately 180 wildfires burning across the province. Twenty-seven were started on Sunday alone. More than 222,000 hectares (2,220 kilometres) have burned so far.

Just over $80 million has been spent on battling the wildfires to date and the province is looking at calling in more help from across the country and possibly the United States.

Kevin Skrepnek from the Provincial Wildfire Coordination Centre says eight communities across B.C. are under evacuation order or alert due to the fires.

The wildfire smoke advisory is still in place from the following areas: Powell River to Gibsons/Langdale; Howe Sound through Squamish and Whistler to Pemberton; and the east and south coast of Vancouver Island from Campbell River to Victoria, including Port Alberni.

FOR FULL COVERAGE: Fire Watch

The extreme fire danger rating throughout most of Metro Vancouver has some regional parks taking preventative steps.

In Vancouver, the increased risk has Stanley Park official stepping up their early morning ranger patrols and are strictly enforcing the no-smoking bylaw. In addition to patrols, officials are also taking extra care to talk with the homeless people living in the park. Anyone caught breaking the open flame ban will be removed from the park.

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For the first time in six years the City of Delta is closing several parks, including Delta Nature Reserve and Watershed Park. Delta officers have already been giving out warnings and now violators face fines up to $200.

The fire danger rating in the municipality of Delta has now been upgraded from high to extreme. An open burning ban is in effect for all areas of Delta. There is also a ban on open cooking (propane and briquette BBQs) in all Delta Parks until further notice.

“The fire situation has become extreme so we need to take the precautionary measures to make sure that people’s lives and safety aren’t at risk,” said Ken Kuntz, Delta Director of Parks.

The City of Burnaby says it is also considering park closures after a brush fire on Burnaby Mountain this past weekend.

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