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Ash leads to air advisory

The eerie twilight gleam and layer of ash many residents have found on their vehicles are a result of a wildfire burning just southwest of Hudson's Hope, at Mount McAllister.


The eerie twilight gleam and layer of ash many residents have found on their vehicles are a result of a wildfire burning just southwest of Hudson's Hope, at Mount McAllister.

Jillian Kelsh, the Prince George Fire Centre's information officer, said that they had an ignition specialist on their way up there on Tuesday "to do some burn off procedures to lessen the activity at the fire head," she said.

At that time, the fire was at 9,000 hectares and "very volatile." Reported this past Sunday, it is also the largest wildfire of the seven the centre is currently dealing with. Like the other six fires, this one was caused by lightning and exacerbated by the heat wave.

The Ministry of Environment issued a wildfire smoke advisory for Fort St. John on Monday. The health authority is advising some precautions, but said that residents should just use common sense.

"We want to remind our residents that life will go on as usual," said Dr. William Osei, medical health officer for Northern Health. "We're not shutting down the north, and all the health effects from these two situations are totally preventable."

Those two situations are the heat wave and the wildfire smoke. He said those at the highest risk are young children and the elderly, as well as people with underlying conditions such as asthma, lung disease, heart disease, or diabetes.

"Those are the three major groups of high risk individuals during these episodes," he said.

The health authority is advising those who do exercise regularly not to stop, but to do it in moderation, and to leave the house when temperatures are cooler. "They can continue life listening to their bodies," said Osei. "Use common sense to stay alive."

He also mentioned that if you know any elderly people, to check on them to make sure they're staying healthy.

Fort St. John's air monitoring station measures only the particles in the air, not the contents of those particles, so it could detect anything in the air, such as dust. But according to Ralph Adams, air quality meteorologist with B.C. Ministry of Environment, it's highly likely that the higher levels of matter in the air is due to smoke.

Twenty-one firefighter specialists were brought in from Ontario earlier this week in anticipation of increased activity.