Wildfire smoke offers positives and negatives

“The smoke has been so dense it has actually calmed some of the fire activity we’re seeing, particularly in Southern B.C.” - Kevin Skrepnek

Trail’s poor air quality may be keeping most indoors, wishing the smoke would clear. But the heavy haze residents are experiencing is, in fact, good for the region, according to Kevin Skrepnek, BC Wildfire Service’s chief fire information officer.

“The smoke has been so dense it has actually calmed some of the fire activity we’re seeing, particularly in Southern B.C.,” he said via teleconference Monday afternoon.

“The smoke almost takes on the same quality that cloud cover would,” he added.

“So it’s absorbing some of the heat that normally would be coming out of the ground from the sun but also trapping a little bit of humidity closer to the ground.”

He attributes the decrease in fire activity partially to the smoke coverage, pointing to only two new wildfires started Monday, eight from Saturday, which is far below the 100-odd fires sparked daily in July.

The total number of active fires over the last couple of days has decreased to 180 from some 200 across the province.

That said, smoke remains a top challenge both for visually identifying new blazes and impacting air quality.

Dr. Kamran Golmohammadi, a medical health officer for Interior Health, joined the conversation to add his insight to the current condition across the province.

The main health concern, he said, is the particulate matter that remains suspended in the air for an extended period.

“(The) major concern is the particles that are extremely small in size, 2.5 micrometers or smaller, in diameter because they can lodge deep in our lungs and cause respiratory and cardiac problems,” he explained.

Trail’s air quality is considered at high risk, according to air quality values posted to bcairquality.ca.

The online tool maps out the province’s air quality down to the nearest community with a simple click of the mouse. The province measures particulate matter 2.5 (from fire), ozone and nitrogen dioxide levels in the air to determine air quality. The numbered and coloured scale offers different referrals based on whether website users are at low, moderate or high risk.

Those most at risk when smoke clouds air quality include children, older adults, pregnant women, those with a chronic lung condition, or people who have been outside in these conditions doing extraneous physical activity.

Dr. Golmohammadi simply recommends staying inside when there is heavy smoke and even using an air filtration system like an air conditioner. But not all systems can get rid of the small particles.

The fire danger rating remains high in the Southeast Fire Centre, where seven of the 13 wildfires of note are burning in the province.

The latest from Karlie Shaughnessy of the Southeast Fire Centre:

– The fire west of Rossland in the Big Sheep Creek area is 190 hectares and 60 per cent contained. Thirty-three BC Wildfire Service personnel,  and five helicopters are onsite. 

- The fire burning ten kilometres north of Christina Lake on the Paulson Pass is 300 hectares in size and 80 per cent contained. Fifty-five personnel, two pieces of heavy equipment and two helicopters are working on this fire. For information on Highway 3, visit www.drivebc.ca

– The Hanna Creek fire, located northwest of Oasis (Hanna Creek) is currently 0.64 hectares and is 100 per cent contained

– The Tenderloin Mountain, 20 km south of Edgewood is 50 hectares and 60 per cent contained. Twenty-two personnel are on-site and two helicopters.

- The fire 5.6 km northwest of Renata is currently 26 hectares and 100 per cent contained. Twenty-eight firefighters, three helicopters and one piece of heavy equipment were on site Monday.

 

– West of Rock Creek, the blaze is estimated at 4,534 hectares and 75 per cent contained.

Resources: 187 firefighters, including 65 contract firefighters, eight helicopters and 19 pieces of heavy equipment working on the incident.

– Stickpin Fire in Washington is southeast of Grand Forks, with the northern most part of the fire currently estimated at 5 km south of the border and 19,240 hectares. BC Wildfire Service crews began fire suppression in the U.S on Sunday, and will be responsible for “Branch 3” on the northeast portion the fire.
Resources: 33 firefighters, three officers and two pieces of heavy equipment.

Smokey conditions are currently restricting air operations on the fire.

Fires to date: (As of August 21, 2015)
So far this season, the Southeast fire centre has seen 553 fires, which have burned 10,490 hectares. Of these 481 were lightning-caused and the rest person-caused (72). 
On a five-year average: 266 / 3,590 ha’s

Just Posted

Adrian Moyls is the Selkirk College Class of 2021 valedictorian and graduate of the School of Health and Human Services. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College valedictorian proves mettle in accomplishment

Adrian Moyls is a graduate of the School of Health and Human Services

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

The pilot of this single-engine propeller plane was unhurt after crash-landing in a Como Road orchard Friday, June 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Plane crash lands into Grand Forks orchard, pilot injured

RCMP have secured the crash site, pending investigation by Transport Canada

Author John Vaillant joins Lisa Moore and Fred Wah for Elephant Mountain Literary Festival’s Alumni Reading on Friday, July 9. All three authors were featured at the inaugural festival in 2012. Photo: Submitted
FESTIVAL TALES: When 2012 meets 2021

The Elephant Mountain Literary Festival will include authors from the event’s inaugural year

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

Most Read