Smoke from wildfires in northeastern British Columbia will be settling over the Grande Prairie region for at least the next couple of days. Forecasts from FireSmoke.ca show the thickness of the smoke intensifying throughout Thursday before blanketing nearly the entire Peace Country on Friday.
Wildfire Information Officer Kelly Burke says the smell and sights of heavy wildfire smoke can be jarring.
“It can be scary, and you might think a wildfire is burning locally, but most of the smoke is coming from B.C,” she says.
However, Burke says, there are ways residents can protect themselves from any potential health risks when it comes to smoke in the area.
“You want to stay inside as much as possible, avoid running, avoid taking outside air into your home, so close the windows, drink plenty of water and stay inside if you’re having breathing difficulties.”
The closest reported fire to the City of Grande Prairie is northeast of Beaverlodge. Burke adds they believe the fire is what they call a lightning holdover from a storm on Canada Day.
“With any type of wind, you’re going to see these holdovers pop up from lightning strikes that have happened in the last four or five days,” she says. “Protection is everything right now, especially with the increased smoke levels it’s harder for air detection, so people calling it in helps.”
A fire restriction remains in effect for the Grande Prairie Forest Area. That means all existing fire permits are suspended, and all outdoor fires burning under the permit must be extinguished unless approved by a forest officer. The wildfire danger in the Grande Prairie Forest Area remains very high.
A similar fire restriction has also been issued for the County of Grande Prairie, while an outright fire ban has been declared at Evergreen Park. 63 wildfires have burned nearly 64 hectares in the Grande Prairie Forest Area since March 1st.