Smoke blankets the skies in Cranbrook, as seen from the main highway on the weekend. (submitted file)

Smoke blankets the skies in Cranbrook, as seen from the main highway on the weekend. (submitted file)

Smoky skies expected to last several days across East Kootenay

Smoke from western U.S. wildfires has blanketed much of B.C. for the past several days

East Kootenay residents can expect to live with smoky conditions for the next few days due to smoke blowing in from the western United States.

A special air quality statement is in effect for the East Kootenay region, north including Invermere and south including Cranbrook.

According to Environment Canada, smoke impacts due to long-range wind gusts from wildfires in the U.S. have been observed across the province including Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and portions of the Interior.

According to the National Fire Protection Association’s interactive map, there are hundreds of fires burning across the western United States at this time. Some are located directly near the Canada/U.S. border and span all the way from the coast to Montana and North Dakota.

READ MORE: U.S. wildfire smoke blankets B.C., wafts east to Alberta, affecting air quality

Localized impacts from the Talbott Creek, Woodbury Creek and Doctor Creek fires continue to be expected as well.

Carmen Hart, Meteorologist with Environment Canada says that the next two days look very bad for air quality with ratings at extreme.

Interior Health’s Air Quality Health Index shows that as of Monday, health risks are rated at 10 or high in the Cranbrook region. Their scale rates air quality from 1 to 10+, with 1-3 being low risk, 4-6 being moderate risk, 7 to 10 being high and 10+ being very high.

“Our air quality models can only project two days at a time, so for the next two days we can definitely expect these smoky conditions,” Hart said. “We might see a change on Wednesday, but at this time we are uncertain.”

She adds that there are two main issues causing the smoke to linger.

“The issue is that right now there is a lot of smoke and it can get trapped,” Hart said. “Also, the source is still on fire. As long as those fires are burning, there will be smoke.”

She says if the smoke does dissipate over the course of the week, East Kootenay residents can expect other smoky sky events in the near future. The Doctor Creek fire located near Canal Flats, for example, is also contributing to smoky conditions.

“The U.S. fires are affecting B.C. on a large-scale but the Doctor Creek fire is definitely influencing Cranbrook,” Hart said. “No rain is forecasted in the near future. We may see some trace amounts over the weekend, but nothing significant.”

Environment Canada says if you or someone in your care are exposed to wildfire smoke, consider taking extra precautions to reduce your exposure. Wildfire smoke is a constantly-changing mixture of particles and gasses which includes many chemicals that can harm your health.

Smoke pollution can worsen symptoms for those who have pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, allergies and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, says Interior Health.

Typical symptoms may include, but aren’t limited to, difficulty breathing, chest pain and discomfort, coughing as well as irritated eyes, nose and throat.

“Smoke can also worsen cardiac disease. Inhaled particles trigger the release of chemical messengers into the blood that may increase the risk of blood clots, angina episodes, heart attacks and strokes,” said Interior Health in a press release. “People with chronic cardiac conditions are more susceptible to chest pain, heart attacks, cardiac arrhythmias, acute congestive heart failure or stroke.”

IH advises those who are experiencing symptoms due to the excessive smoke to take medications as prescribed and use a rescue inhaler if one has been prescribed as well.

“You should not take more medication, or take it more often than prescribed,” says IH.

Consider leaving the area until the air is clear again if you are somewhere where smoke particulates are significant, IH adds, or if the smoke is making you sick.

People should stay indoors whenever possible and close the windows if they can, as well as limit or eliminate outdoor exercise until the air clears.

Interior Health is also advising schools to ensure students are situated appropriately apart, keep classroom windows closed, encourage students to wear masks, and restrict outdoor physical education and limit indoor physical education to lower intensity activities.

If you are experiencing symptoms and are concerned, contact your health care provider or walk-in clinic. If your symptoms are severe, seek emergency medical attention.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

Proposed homeless shelter; In response to Keystone cancellation; Progressives

Moir Park in Cranbrook. Photo courtesy Google.
Local organizations partnering for trail project around Moir Park

A partnership of local organizations is hoping to build a community trail… Continue reading

Castlegar Sculpturewalk 2020 – 10 Year Anniversary Sand Sculpture. (Submitted/CBT)
CBT arts and culture grant program now accepting applications

Apply through the Kootenay Columbia Cultural Alliance

Millie the cat showed up at the East Kootenay SPCA branch seemingly on her own accord. She now needs $2000 worth of treatment. (BC SPCA file)
East Kootenay SPCA raising funds for senior cat found outside branch

SPCA hopes to raise $2,000 for surgery, medication and care of Millie the cat

City council is requesting a meeting with a provincial cabinet minister to ask the province to step in and manage urban deer in Cranbrook. Barry Coulter file photo.
City of Cranbrook asks province to manage urban deer

The City of Cranbrook is requesting a meeting with a provincial cabinet… Continue reading

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
Canadians divided over Keystone pipeline, despite U.S. president’s permit pullback

Two-thirds of Canadians think Biden’s decision was a “bad thing” for Alberta

Most Read