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

Renter beware: Online rental scam happening in Trail

Don’t be giving anyone money if you can’t get keys to have a look or meet the person, realtor warns

Rossland group builds hiking trail FORR everyone

The project will allow people with mobility issues to enjoy the trails in the summer

2019 Colombo Lodge executives

The 2019 men and ladies executives were sworn in at the installation ceremonies earlier this month

Mounties warn about open liquor at Rossland Carnival

They’ll be out there watching for illegal drinking

The Trail Smoke Eaters win in a shootout over Wenatchee Wild

The Trail Smoke Eaters split its two-game series against the Wenatchee Wild on weekend

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

One-third of pregnant women think cannabis won’t harm their baby: UBC

Review of six U.S. studies found doctors didn’t communicate health risks of pot use

No cash, no election sign policy pondered by B.C. city

A deposit could be required to put up election signs in 2022.

China demands US drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

China detained two Canadians on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng

9 brains, 3 hearts: Some wild facts about octopuses

Things to know about the giant Pacific octopus, which is naturally found in the waters of the U.S. West coast, the Aleutian Islands and Japan

Hollywood announces 2019 Oscar nominations

Netflix has scored its first best picture nomination, something the streaming giant has dearly sought

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Most Read