Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement for the entire East Kootenay region, including Kimberley and Cranbrook, for the next 24 to 48 hours, due to wildfire smoke.
“Several regions in the B.C. Interior are being impacted or are likely to be impacted by wildfire smoke over the next 24-48 hours,” reads the statement from Environment Canada. “Smoke may be widespread in some regions due to many active fires. Smaller fires in some regions may contribute to locally degraded air quality conditions. Localized precipitation may temporarily alleviate smoke conditions in some areas.”
Symptoms of degraded air quality can include increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk.
Another update on air quality will be available on July 13th.
There are currently 65 wildfires burning throughout the Southeast Fire Centre, one of which is listed as a fire of note by the B.C. Wildfire Service.
The Beaverdale Creek Fire, located south of Highway 3 on the Bombi Pass near Castlegar, is a the only fire of note in the southeast. It is listed as out of control and as of Monday morning, the fire was showing signs of a low vigor surface fire with an inconsistent flame front, says the information bulletin.
The evacuation order for 46 properties in a small mobile home community near Elko was rescinded last week. The situation remains the same as of Monday afternoon. The Kikomun Creek fire, which prompted the order, is listed at 0.60 hectares and under control.
The Moyie River fire, which was discovered on July 2nd, is under control and 29 hectares.
Kim Wright, Fire Information Officer with the Southeast Fire Centre, explained that crews are on the ground of the Moyie River fire and the fire is not expected to grow.
There are several other small fires burning between Fernie, Kimberley, Cranbrook and Invermere, most of which are listed as under control or being held. They can be found via the B.C. Wildfire dashboard.
There is a fire in the Bill Nye Mountain, near Wasa, that is listed as out of control and 0.60 hectares. This fire was discovered on July 8th.
In recent days, both the City of Cranbrook and Regional District of East Kootenay have urged the public to be prepared and have an evacuation plan in place, in the event that a fire threatens any of the local communities.
Both the City and the RDEK have suggested taking part in the FireSmart program, which is aimed at protecting homes from fires.
When looking at the BC Wildfire Dashboard, it is important to know what fire stages of control mean.
Fires that are listed as out of control describe a wildfire that is not responding (or only responding on a limited basis) to suppression action, such that the perimeter spread is not being contained.
Being held indicates that (with resources currently committed to the fire) sufficient suppression action has been taken that the fire is not likely to spread beyond existing or predetermined boundaries under the prevailing and forecasted conditions.
Under control means that the fire has received sufficient suppression action to ensure no further spread of the fire.
Out means the fire has been extinguished.
The B.C. Wildfire Service and Emergency Info BC have an app that you can download to get information on evacuation alerts and orders, as well as response and recovery resources.
The RDEK also has an evacuation notification system that you can sign up for online. The notification system will send notifications via text or phone to East Kootenay residents in the event of an evacuation alert or order.
For the latest information on fires across the region and the province, download the B.C. Wildfire app or visit their website. Be sure to follow The Cranbrook Townsman, B.C. Wildfire and the RDEK on Facebook for regular updates.
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