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Special air quality statement for West Kootenay, Arrow, Slocan Lakes

Smoke from the Talbott Creek Wildfire is expected to filter into the valleys over the news few days forcing the issuing of a Special air quality statement for parts of the southern interior of BC, including East and West Kootenay and Arrow Lakes, Slocan Lakes. — BC Wildfire photo

Environment Canada issued a Special air quality statement for parts of the southern interior of BC, including East and West Kootenay and Arrow Lakes, Slocan Lakes due to wildfire smoke over the next 24-72 hours.

“Hot and dry conditions will continue in south eastern British Columbia until Monday,” the Environment Canada website said.

"Localized impacts are expected from the Doctor Creek and Talbott Creek wildfires, with possible long-range impacts from smoke transported from Oregon and California

Environment Canada said during a wildfire, smoke conditions can change quickly over short distances and can vary considerably hour-by-hour.

“Wildfire smoke is a natural part of our environment but it is important to be mindful that exposure to smoke may affect your health,” Environment Canada said.

“People with pre-existing health conditions, respiratory infections such as COVID-19, older adults, pregnant women and infants, children, and sensitive individuals are more likely to experience health effects from smoke exposure.”

People who are exposed to wildfire smoke should consider taking extra precautions to reduce exposure.

“Wildfire smoke is a constantly-changing mixture of particles and gasses which includes many chemicals that can harm your health,” Environment Canada said.

For more details, please consult the Government of Canada website.

For more information on current air quality, visit the BC Government Air Quality page.

Visit www.airhealth.ca for information on how to reduce your health risk and your personal contribution to pollution levels, as well as for current and forecast AQHI values.

The next bulletin update will be available September 7, 2020.

BC Wildfire Service said that the Talbott Creek Wildfire in the Slocan Valley near Winlaw growth was minimal Friday but new perimeter mapping has increased the size estimate to 521 hectares.

“Control lines established on the east, south and west continue to hold the fire. Along the eastern and northern flanks suppression efforts were supported by helicopter bucketing,” BC Wildfire Service said.

“The fire behaviour has been exhibiting rank 1 and 2 fire behaviour with small pockets of rank 3 (Friday). This means the fire was predominantly burning as a smouldering ground fire or low surface fire with small areas of moderately vigorous surface fire and moderate rates of spread.”

BC Wildfire Service said there have been significant temperature inversions experienced in the region of the fire in the last few days which is due to warmer air aloft and cool air sitting in the valley bottom that increases fire behaviour at ridgetops and causes smoke to settle in the valley bottom. This smoke may challenge early morning aviation operations by reducing visibility and is expected to continue in the coming days.

BC Wildfire Service said there are 156 firefighters battling the fire with the assistance of eight helicopters and eight pieces of heavy equipment.

BC Wildfire Service said crews continue to work on and improve fuel free guards along the west, south and east flanks of the fire. A large portion of these lines are blacklined, which means that no combustible fuels remain between the guard and the main fire.

“This helps crews control the fires at the guards as fire behaviour is greatly decreased where fuels have been previously burned,” BC Wildfire Service said.

“Only small sections of the guards remain to be blacklined and will be achieved by small hand ignition operation (Saturday) and (Sunday).”