Washington Wildfire Smoke Posing Health Risk to Residents in Vancouver

by Tia Bailey
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Washington state has been dealing with wildfires. The smoke from the fires has drifted over to Vancouver, causing health risks for residents.

Wildfires have been ravaging through the Northwest, and it’s creating problems for residents. According to an update on Friday by Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, there are currently nine active wildfires in Washington. The air quality has suffered due to the smoke, and now, it’s gone over the Canadian border.

“Smoke concentrations may vary widely across the region as winds and temperatures change, and as wildfire behaviour changes,” the Metro Vancouver press release said.

There is also a fire in a popular West Vancouver ski spot, Cypress Mountain. This fire is also “contributing to hazy conditions already being experienced in Metro Vancouver,” according to the release.

Metro Vancouver Regional District’s Twitter account shared that they have crews going out to hot spots.

“Metro Vancouver wildfire crews at #Minnekhada Regional Park are working through the weekend to monitor for and extinguish hot spots,” they wrote.

The area has had lawn watering restrictions in place. These restrictions have been extended until October 31 due to the warm and dry conditions in order to conserve drinking water.

Northwest Wildfires Affect Air Quality

Oregon has also experienced the wildfires.

“Today, @OregonDEQ & @LaneRegionalAir issued an #AirQuality advisory for Benton, Clackamas, Columbia, Coos, Douglas, Lane, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Washington & Yamhill Counties due to smoke from the #CedarCreekFire & fires in southwest WA. Photo: Siouxon Fire in SW WA. 1/3,” Oregon Smoke Info tweeted. “Washington’s Southwest Clean Air Agency also has an advisory active for the five counties in southwest Washington. *IMPORTANT*: There are more specifics in this advisory than usual. Be sure to visit http://oregonsmoke.org to read all the details. 2/3.”

“Smoke levels can change rapidly depending on weather,” the advisory stated. “Smoke can irritate the eyes and lungs and worsen some medical conditions. People most at risk include infants and young children, people with heart or lung disease, older adults, and pregnant people.”

Residents in the affected areas are encouraged to stay indoors if able, and close all windows and doors. Additionally, while some masks may help, others are useless — it’s important to to choose the correct ones.

“N95 or P100 respirators approved by NIOSH may offer protection, but they must be properly selected and worn. Select a NIOSH-approved respirator with a N, R, or P alongside the number 95, 99, or 100,” says the advisory.

Also, the National Weather Service issued a “red flag warning” for other areas affected by the wildfires.

“A Red Flag Warning means warm temperatures, very low humidities, and stronger winds are expected to combine to produce an increased risk of fire danger,” the National Weather Service website said. “If you are allowed to burn in your area, all burn barrels must be covered with a weighted metal cover, with holes no larger than 3/4 of an inch.”

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