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Hundreds of forest fires spark health risk across the Northwest Territories

Andrea Bagley
Digital Reporter

Thursday, August 7, 2014, 10:20 AM - More than 300 fires have started across the Northwest Territories so far this season, burning close to three million hectares of land.

SPECIAL REPORT: Check the air quality in your area.

Fire officials say this is one of the most active years they've seen with several fires rapidly spreading close to highways and power lines.

The forest fire smoke has also been creating a major health risk.

"Wild fire smoke continues to produce low visibilities and poor air quality over some areas around and to the west of Great Slave Lake," says Environment Canada in a special air quality statement issued early Thursday. "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."

If you, or someone in your care, develop symptoms, reduce strenuous outdoors activities wherever possible until the air quality improves, officials warn.

"Heavy rain along the border in the Northwest Territories helped with some fire output Wednesday overnight with Fort Smith receiving 76 mm, while Yellowknife and Fort Providence received only 5-10 mm," says Brian Dillon, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.

Wildfire smoke advisories have also been issued for large sections of the B.C. Interior due to forest fire smoke.

"Smoke concentrations will vary widely as winds and fire behaviour change," the statement reads.

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