Much of south-central and southeastern Manitoba, including the city of Winnipeg, is under an air quality warning Tuesday.
In a statement, Environment Canada warned that “elevated pollution levels are expected or occurring” from the Ontario border west into the central parts of the province, including as far north as Poplar River and down to the U.S. border to the south.
A statement issued by the national weather service just after 10:15 a.m. said smoke coming from forest fires to the east of Berens River and west of Red Lake was pushed over affected areas by northeast winds overnight and into Tuesday morning.
“Due to the smoky conditions, individuals living in or travelling to the above noted areas are advised to be aware of potential health concerns that can be associated with current air conditions,” the Environment Canada statement reads.
“In these current conditions, even healthy individuals may experience sore eyes, tears, coughing and a runny nose.”
Environment Canada says the smoke is expected to start to disperse as winds shift to the south Wednesday.
In the meantime, those in affected areas are warned to limit outdoor activity and stop physical activity if breathing becomes difficult or uncomfortable. Environment Canada also recommends turning off air-conditioning units that may draw the smoke indoors.
Young children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with heart and lung conditions are at the most risk.
“Wildfire smoke is a constantly-changing mixture of particles and gasses which includes many chemicals that can harm your health,” the statement reads. “If you or those in your care are exposed to wildfire smoke, consider taking extra precautions to reduce your exposure.”
A provincial spokesperson said there are currently 32 active wildfires across the province, including three major fires in Grahamdale, Bird Lake and Lynn Lake.
Two of those fires are human-caused, while one is still under investigation.
There have been 140 wildfires in Manitoba so far this year, according to data provided by the province.
–With files from Anya Nazeravich