Special air quality statement issued for Victoria, Saanich and West Shore

Special air quality statement issued for Victoria, Saanich and West Shore

Smoky skies in Victoria on Aug. 3.

Vancouver Island residents are still dealing with hazy skies as smoke continues to drift in from the wildfires in the Interior.

Environment Canada said Thursday morning that a special air quality statement is in effect for Victoria, Saanich and the West Shore. According to Environment Canada, the smoke is causing poor air quality and reducing visibility.

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change Strategy, along with Island Health, has issued a smoky skies bulletin for communities in east Vancouver Island, the Southern Gulf Islands and Greater Victoria due to smoke in the area.

The ministry and Island Health said smoke concentrations will vary widely as winds, fire behaviour and temperatures change. Infants, the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease are asked to avoid strenuous activities and prolonged exposure to the smoke. Anyone who experiences difficulty in breathing, chest pain or discomfort, a sudden onset of a cough or irritation of airways can contact a health care provider, and limit their activity and exposure.

On Thursday, the Air Quality Health Index for Victoria/Saanich was at 7, which is considered high risk. The air quality health index for the West Shore was at 7 as well.

A heat wave is also affecting southern British Columbia. White Rock broke a 1939 record by hitting 29.5 C on Wednesday. The Squamish Airport broke a 1993 record at 33.2 C. Port Alberni reached 36.2 C, breaking a 2009 record.

The hottest temperature in the province Wednesday was in Hope, which reached 37.4 C.

On Tuesday, the Victoria Harbour hit 25.9 C. The previous record was 25.6 C in 1891.

Alexa HuffmanAlexa Huffman

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