August 20, 2018 10:51 pm
Updated: August 21, 2018 2:16 am

Spokane residents want to fan wildfire smoke back to Canada. That’s ‘very ridiculous’: expert

WATCH: Hundreds of wildfires are still burning across British Columbia, and there are no indications the province wide state of emergency will be lifted anytime soon. As Catherine Urquhart reports, it's making for the province's third worst wildfire season on record.

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A group of Spokane residents think it makes sense to put fans on people’s roofs and blow the wildfire smoke enveloping their city in Canada’s direction.

They would be mistaken, said a person who knows what she’s talking about.

Coverage of B.C. wildfires on Globalnews.ca:

Blow Spokane’s Smoke Away to Canada” is the name of a Facebook event that’s scheduled to take place on Friday at noon.

Organized by Spokane resident Caleb Moon, the event asks its population of 550,000 people to place at least five box fans on their roofs, turn them to their highest settings and aim them at “northeastern Canada.”

“Team work makes the dream work. Let’s do this, Spokanites,” said the event’s description.

READ MORE: Parts of Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley hit 10-plus ‘very high risk’ air quality rating

The event may sound like a joke, but Moon said he’s serious about this.

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“We figure a small box fan can move smoke about six feet, so if you put 500,000 of them together, you can do the math on that, we can probably get it pretty far into Canada,” he said.

And he admits to feeling a little bad about the idea.

“I love Canadian bacon on my pizza, I love hockey and I am sorry this is the only solution we have,” Moon said.

There’s a flaw in the plan, however — it’s “very ridiculous,” said Sarah Henderson, senior environmental health scientist at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).

“One sort of floor fan could move a little smoke around, but there’s no way that a large group of fans is going to move as much smoke as there actually is,” she told Global News.

“If he’s got a fan running, on your floor, think of its radius of influence — it’s not very large, maybe 10 feet.

“So all it’s going to do is clear smoke, maybe, out of that 10 feet, but a fan also pulls. It doesn’t just push air, it pulls air through it.”

Smoke from distant wildfires obscures the view as a heavy haze blankets the city of Vancouver, B.C. on Tuesday, August 14, 2018.

THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Bayne Stanley

Besides, smoke isn’t just flowing from B.C. — it’s also coming from California, where fires are burning from north to south.

One of them, the Ranch Fire (Mendocino Complex), is burning at over 140,000 hectares in size.

“They have smoke coming down from Canada because all our smoke is getting pushed south right now, but they must have smoke coming from California,” Henderson said.

Spokane residents may not need the fans as much as they think they do, anyway.

Smoke is expected to start clearing in western Washington on Thursday, and then eastern Washington on Friday.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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