Grand Forks and the rest of the Boundary region virtually disappeared under a blanket of smoke as wildfires ravage parts of the province.
An air quality advisory has been ongoing for Grand Forks since last Thursday, with the provincial government releasing a smoky skies bulletin on its website for the West Kootenay and the whole of the southern half of the province. The advisory stated as of Monday these regions will be impacted by smoke over the next 24-to-28 hours.
The online page includes a map of regions and direct links to specific areas people can click on to see the latest updates.
It also stated wildfire smoke can be hazardous to everyone’s health and everyone should take precautions to reduce exposure to wildfire smoke. Tips including reducing physical activity if one feels unwell, staying indoors, drinking cool water and monitoring any symptoms for themselves and loved ones.
People with chronic illnesses are also advised to carefully monitor symptoms and have rescue medication readily available, as well as a personal care plan ready in the event of an emergency.
The status of the air quality is being regularly updated as conditions change, the advisory stated.
The local smoky conditions are being fed by multiple wildfires in the West Kootenay and Okanagan regions. This has prompted multiple travel restrictions as the fires continue to spread.
The province declared a state of emergency over ongoing wildfires on Saturday.
Shortly after, the province issued an order banning non-essential travel to fire-affected communities.
As of Monday around 35,000 have been evacuated and another 30,000 are under an evacuation alert, according to Priemer David Eby. at a news conference on Friday afternoon. The travel restriction order is effective until Sept. 4 and is covers Kelowna, Kamloops, Oliver, Osoyoos, Penticton and Vernon. While it doesn’t effect people already staying in campground and hotels, provincial officials strongly advise those who can check out early to do so in order to free up spaces for evacuees and emergency personnel needing a place to stay.
Emergency Management and Climate Readiness Minister Bowinn Ma said in later comments any would-be tourists to change or cancel plans immediately.
The order excludes essential travel, including medical reasons and funerals.
Municipal RCMP resources have been given the go-ahead to be deployed to evacuated areas and secure empty properties if needed, as per authorization from Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.
-With files from Ashley Wadhwani