An air-quality advisory issued by B.C. for the north and central regions of the province was ended Wednesday evening, as smoke pouring into the region due to an out-of-control wildfire in northwest Alberta has begun to clear out.The Chuckegg Creek wildfire continues to grow, however, reaching almost 150,000 hectares and forcing about 5,000 residents out of their homes since it flared up last week. If conditions worsen, wildfire smoke may return to some regions of the province by the weekend, necessitating further alerts.The smoky-skies bulletin, issued Tuesday, warned that wildfire smoke can affect people’s health, especially those with pre-existing conditions, the elderly, infants, children and sensitive individuals.In Metro Vancouver, a haze of smoke from Alberta’s wildfires was drifting across the region Tuesday and Wednesday, according to meteorologist Doug Lundquist of Environment and Climate Change Canada.He said a north-to-northeast wind was blowing the smoke into the region, and it was mixing with marine air causing a haze.
Chuckegg Creek wildfire is burning out of control in the High Level Forest Area, to the southwest and west of the town of High Level. May 19, 2019.
Lundquist said the smoke was likely higher up, which is why there was no air-quality advisory in effect for the region. The smoke should clear up in the next few days in Metro but may linger in other parts of the province, Lundquist added.Julie Saxton, a Metro air-quality planner, said the region has 31 air-quality stations in Metro and the Fraser Valley. She said while there was wildfire smoke detected in the region Tuesday and Wednesday, the fine particulate matter wasn’t at dangerous levels.An air-quality advisory typically will be issued when the particulate matter goes above 25 micrograms a cubic metre. On Wednesday, some areas were 16 or 17, she said, but most stations were at less than 10 micrograms a cubic metre on a 24-hour average.The federal weather agency on Wednesday said the air-quality level in Metro was two, or low-risk. The highest in the province was Level 4, or moderate risk for poor air quality, in Fort St. John, Kamloops, Prince George, Williams Lake and Smithers.During smoky conditions, the province advises to stop or reduce your activity level if breathing becomes difficult or you feel unwell. It also advises staying cool and drinking plenty of fluids, and carrying rescue medication (for example, asthma medication) at all times.The B.C. Wildfire Service says on Tuesday that there were two new lightning-caused and four new human-caused wildfires. Since April 1, there have been 209 wildfires in B.C.The past two wildfire seasons in B.C. saw widespread air-quality advisories and severe wildfires, which scientists say is linked to unseasonably hot weather and the climate-change crisis.The B.C. Centre for Disease Control reported a 120-per-cent increase in daily physician visits and an 80-per-cent increase in asthma medication prescriptions in the summer of 2017.Many cities across Canada, including Vancouver, have declared a climate-change emergency to address the crisis.The Weather Network has forecast a hotter-and-drier-than-normal summer for B.C., increasing the fire risk.