All areas of Vancouver Island are under an air quality statement due to smoke from hundreds of wildfires burning across B.C.

The special air quality statement is in effect for Greater Victoria, the Southern Gulf Islands, west Vancouver Island, inland Vancouver Island and north Vancouver Island, as well as Campbell River, Comox Valley, Duncan and Nanaimo/Parksville on east Vancouver Island.

A smoky skies bulletin from the B.C. government and Island Health has also been issued for Vancouver Island.

Environment Canada said during a wildfire, smoke conditions can change quickly over short distances and can vary considerably hour-by-hour. People with pre-existing health conditions, the elderly, infants, children and sensitive individuals are more likely to experience health effects from smoke exposure.

People who have breathing difficulties are advised to stay inside and find an indoor place that’s cool and ventilated. Using an air conditioner that cools and filters air could help. People can also go to a library, shopping mall or recreation centre that is air-conditioned.

Island Health also advises stop or reducing your activity if breathing becomes difficult or you feel unwell, staying cool and drinking plenty of fluids and carrying any rescue medications at all times.

Just under 200 new wildfires sparked over the weekend in B.C., bringing the total number of active blazes in the province to nearly 600. Of those, the BC Wildfire Service said 47 are close to homes or infrastructure such as roads. Most of the new wildfires were recorded Saturday as lighting storms swept across the province.

Alexa Huffman