Wildfire smoke expected to reach Vancouver Island this weekend

Wildfire smoke expected to reach Vancouver Island this weekend

Smoke from wildfires across British Columbia is expected to reach Vancouver Island this weekend.

The smoke is expected to sweep Greater Victoria starting Saturday and through the weekend.

Environment Canada uses a 10-point scale for its Air Quality Health Index (AQHI), which measures health risks from local air pollution.

Greater Victoria, the West Shore, Nanaimo, and Duncan all have an AQHI of two, or “low risk,” as of Friday morning.

The AQHI for these four regions is expected to rise to six out of 10, or “moderate risk,” by Saturday evening.

More smoke is expected to arrive Sunday, according to forecasting by Environment Canada, though predictions for the AQHI on Sunday are not yet available.

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Smoke pollution can cause symptoms like irritated eyes, coughing, increased mucus production in the nose and throat, and difficulty breathing — especially during exercise — according to Environment Canada.

Seniors, young children, pregnant people, people who work outdoors, and people with chronic illnesses are most at risk of experiencing negative impacts from air pollution.

To protect yourself from wildfire smoke, Environment Canada recommends keeping doors and windows closed at home, drinking plenty of water, and staying indoors.

The incoming smoke is coming largely from wildfires along B.C.’s southern interior, as well as northern Washington.

As of Friday morning, a state of emergency is active in the City of Kelowna, where thousands of residents have been ordered to evacuate.

Tens of thousands of people are also evacuating from Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, where an encroaching wildfire threatens to cut off road access to the capital city.

Adam ChanAdam Chan

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