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Wildfire smoke expected to lift Friday afternoon

Wind this afternoon is expected to give some the Grande Prairie area some relief from wildfire smoke. The smoke from fires in B.C. thickened over the city Friday morning, with the Air Quality Health Index reaching 10.6 or a very high risk before 11 a.m.

Wildfire Information Officer Kelly Burke says that should start to lift Friday afternoon.

“We’re expecting a cold front to come through that’ll ease the wildfire smoke this weekend,” she explains. “You should expect it to be varying wildly across our area; shifting winds and rising temperatures the concentrations of smoke will be different throughout our area.”

A special air quality statement remains in effect for much of the Grande Prairie and MD of Greenview region. Environment Canada agrees that conditions are expected to slowly improve this afternoon, beginning over northern Alberta, as a cold front begins to slide through.

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While the smoke may lift for the weekend, hundreds of fires are still burning in British Columbia, and Burke expects Grande Prairie to continue to be affected.

“Smoke is all weather dependent. With west winds that we’re expecting, I do expect the smoke to stick around, but we’ll see what the weather brings for us.”

Winds gusting up to 50 kilometres an hour are in the forecast for the region Friday afternoon. Burke urges people in the area to be extra careful not to spark a local wildfire, especially as much of the province’s firefighting resources are already spoken for.

“A lot of these [resources] have been deployed on export to other provinces. We do have sufficient coverage for our hazard.”

Currently, the wildfire danger in the Grande Prairie Forest Area is high, and a fire advisory is in place, as well as for the County of Grande Prairie. No new fire permits will be issued for heavy fuel or non-essential burning. Travellers are encouraged to visit to see what restriction are in place for where they are going.

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