Air quality has improved slightly over Metro Vancouver but remains at very unhealthy levels in several other regions as wildfire smoke blankets large sections of British Columbia.
Environment Canada is maintaining air quality statements for areas from the Peace River in the northeast to the Cariboo in central B.C., and the entire lower third of the province.
The federal government’s air quality index shows areas with the highest levels of potentially dangerous wood smoke include Cranbrook and Castelgar in southeastern B.C., the eastern Fraser Valley and the communities of Whistler and Squamish.
Wildfires in B.C., Washington state, Oregon and Idaho are being blamed for the smoke.
Even though it’s bad enough to prompt warnings to avoid exposure, Vancouver no longer tops the global list of cities with the worst air quality, instead dropping to fifth worst behind Dubai and cities in Pakistan, China and Vietnam.
Blazes west and east of Hope have prompted evacuation orders and alerts, as well as the closure of the eastbound lanes of Highway 1.
A five-square kilometre fire is has been burning between Chilliwack and Hope, although detours are possible.
In the northeast, a nearly 243-square kilometre lightning-caused wildfire near Hudson’s Hope forced an evacuation of that entire community on Saturday.
The B.C. Wildfire Service says it expects increased fire behaviour this week as sun and warm temperatures continue.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 12, 2022.