Air quality remains poor as multiple threats keep fire danger high in B.C.

Digital WritersThe Weather Network
Digital Writers

The province has seen hundreds of new wildfires ignited in recent days, most of which were sparked by lightning.

The record-shattering heat wave may have ended in the West, but recovery efforts from it continue in British Columbia. To aid the efforts, the B.C. Wildfire service are anticipating the arrival of about 100 out-of-province personnel from Ontario and New Brunswick will help. As of Tuesday evening, there were more than 200 wildfires burning. Just under one-third of them are classified as "out of control."

Quiet winds in the province may help slow the spread of the fires, but strengthening winds aloft may support some thunderstorm development on Wednesday, which could ignite additional wildfires from lightning strikes.

Bill Blair, the federal minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, said that the Canadian Armed Forces will be providing air support for impacted areas until July 19.


The extreme heat and dry conditions elevated wildfire dangers over the past week across Western Canada, with several wildfires burning aside from the blaze that consumed Lytton, B.C., last Wednesday.

The BC Coroners Service confirmed two people perished in the blaze in Lytton. However, this number could escalate as officials said that some people are still unaccounted for, mostly due to the quick evacuation of the village.

Natural Resources Canada says the very high fire danger ratings will persist across much of Interior British Columbia on Wednesday, with even more areas meeting extreme fire danger criteria.

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Wildfire Smoke Over B.C. & Washington (NOAA SATELLITE IMAGE)

Visible satellite imagery shows wildfire smoke covering parts of British Columbia and Washington on July 3, 2021. Image from NOAA/STAR.

Multiple evacuation orders and alerts are in effect for parts of the Interior. Open burning and campfires both remain prohibited across the province to prevent further wildfires from sparking and spreading.

The Mckay Creek fire was close to 24,698 hectares as of Tuesday evening while the Sparks Lake (also called Sparks Creek) fire consumed at least 39,251 hectares of land by Tuesday afternoon.


Widespread smoke from the out-of-control fires has lead to poor air quality across Interior B.C., with widespread special air quality statements in effect. Gentler winds are allowing the smoke to linger in communities near the fires.

"Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk," warns Environment Canada in the statement.

Those at risk are urged to limit time spent outdoors when the air quality is poor, and wear a tight-fitting, high-quality mask while outside to prevent the fine particulates in the smoke from entering your lungs.

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The province desperately needs the rain to help with the wildfires, but not the risk of lightning associated with potential thunderstorms. The storm threat will be ongoing Wednesday, so new lightning-ignited blazes are possible.


According to the wildfire service, 6.3 per cent of the current fires are human-caused and 70.4 per cent resulting from lightning.

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The unprecedented heat that roasted the province earlier in the week dried out vegetation across the region, allowing small fires to grow into raging infernos with little notice.

The historic heat wave that built over Western Canada and the northwestern United States was the result of an intense ridge of high pressure that covered the region for more than a week.

BCALLTimeHeat (June 29)

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Clear skies, bright sunshine, and sinking air beneath the ridge sent temperatures soaring to unparalleled levels.

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Lytton, B.C., more than 90 per cent of which was razed by a wildfire on Wednesday, set Canada’s all-time high temperature record three days in a row last week. The streak culminated with a sweltering daytime high of 49.6°C on June 29, surpassing the old national record of 45°C by nearly 5°C, which stood for more than 80 years.

Thumbnail is of a controlled burn in Deka Lake, courtesy of BC Wildfire Service.