B.C. summer 2021: Heat-wave warnings, wildfires and now smoky skies

A photo showing smoky skies above Okanagan Lake, Kelowna and West Kelowna on Friday, July 2, 2021. Global News

What started as a wonderful summer in B.C., with hot, sunny weather, has quickly morphed into one of ongoing heat-wave warnings and massive wildfires.

And now, with 163 new fires having started this week alone, smoky skies are starting to obscure the air in some B.C. communities, so much so that Environment Canada has issued special air quality statements for 11 regions.

From the Fraser Canyon to the Okanagan to the Kootenays and the Peace River region, the national weather agency says several parts of B.C. “are being impacted or are likely to be impacted by wildfire smoke over the next 24-48 hours.”

Read more: B.C. residents remain on high alert with 49 wildfires sparked in just 48 hours

It added that smoke concentrations will continue to build in several regions of the province.

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Regions with air quality statements include:

  • 100 Mile House
  • Chilcotin
  • Fort Nelson
  • Fraser Canyon
  • Nicola
  • North Thompson
  • Okanagan Valley (Central and North)
  • Peace River
  • Shuswap
  • South Thompson
  • Williston
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Wildfires in B.C. threaten homes, trigger evacuations in Kamloops, Castlegar – Jul 2, 2021

“If you or those in your care are exposed to wildfire smoke, consider taking extra precautions to reduce your exposure,” said Environment Canada.

“Wildfire smoke is a constantly-changing mixture of particles and gasses which includes many chemicals that can harm your health.”

Read more: ‘The core of the village has been devastated’: Lytton, B.C. wildfire leaves trail of destruction

In related information, the province’s Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) lists values for 26 areas across the province.

The ratings range from low health risk (1-3) to moderate (4-6) to high (7-10) and very high (10-[plus).

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On Friday morning, most communities were listed as having low AQHI values (1-3), with three having moderate values (Castlegar, 4; Fort St. John, 4) and North Okanagan, 4).

However, Kamloops was listed as moderate but was expected to jump up into the high (10) and very high range (10-plus).

To view your community’s AQHI value, visit the B.C. government webpage.

More information about air quality can be seen on this webpage.

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Possible state of emergency for B.C. wildfires? – Jul 1, 2021

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