Smoke drifting from the wildfires in B.C. can been seen more than a million kilometres away from Earth and it’s leaving some communities in the province with among the worst air quality in the world.

In central British Columbia, Environment Canada gave Prince George a “10+” rating on the Air Quality Health Index Sunday morning, urging anyone in Prince George to reduce strenuous any activity outside.

As of Sunday evening, Prince George had a 36 out of 100 -- 100 being ideal -- on a worldwide air pollution index known as the “Breezometer.” As a comparison, Mumbai, India -- a city renowned with having some of the worst air in the world -- had a rating of 46.

Conditions have gotten so bad in Prince George that social media posts circulating from the area show what appears to be a city at dusk, when in reality, the photos are taken mid-morning.

“It’s some of the worst we’ve ever had,” Garth Frizzell, councillor with the City of Prince George, told CTV News Channel. “It’s fairly serious. The skies are pretty grey and we’re looking for rest, but for now, we’re seeing people who’ve been a lot harder hit than us.”

Prince George has brought in about 2,200 people who have already been evacuated from other parts of the province.

As of Sunday, the B.C. Wildfire Service reported 434 active wildfires throughout the province. The smoke emanating from the fires is so massive that NASA says the smoke can been seen from satellites 1.5 million kilometres away.

The smoke is not only impacting British Columbia. The wildfires have prompted Environment Canada to issue air quality statements for much of southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and northwestern Ontario, as well.

The national weather agency warns that the smoky conditions may cause coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath, specifically among children, seniors and those with cardiovascular or lung diseases.

As crews continue to battle the fires, two additional evacuation alerts have been issued for parts of south central British Columbia.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay has issued alerts for the Syringa Provincial Park, Deer Park and the surrounding areas. The alerts affect 103 residential addresses, 100 camp sites and a 57-unit condo.

The alerts have been prompted by a fire in Syringa Provincial Park that has grown to an estimated 419 hectares and a fire near Deer Creek which is about 225 hectares in size.

“The Southeast Fire Centre has requested the evacuation alerts as a precaution to protect people and property in the area, particularly campers or visitors the area,” Sangita Sudan, Director of the RDCK Emergency Operations Centre said in a news release. “If you are affected by the alert, please take the time now to prepare to evacuate yourself and your family should an evacuation be required.”


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Posted by Alysa English-Dixon on Friday, 17 August 2018