Prince George is now under a special air quality statement as smoke from nearby wildfires is coming the city’s way.
Environment Canada says several regions of B.C. are being impacted or are likely being impacted by wildfire smoke over the next 24 to 48 hours.
Smoke is widespread the southern interior but may remain aloft and Smoke from Cutoff Creek and Chilako fires may impact areas through central B.C. over the next 24 hours.
Cutoff Creek and Chilako are two of the three ‘wildfires of note’ that are being battled in the Prince George Fire Centre in addition to the Tentfire Creek.
The largest in the Prince George Fire Centre is the Chilako fire, discovered on July 1. It is burning at an now estimated at 1,471 hectares and was caused by lightning.
BC Wildfire Service says crews are engaged in indirect suppression efforts because of the changing fire behaviour. There are 55 firefighters, 4 helicopters, and 26 pieces of heavy equipment.
The second wildfire of note is the Cutoff Creek Fire 2km north of Big Bend Arm. Discovered on July 2, the fire was caused by lightning and is now estimated at 886.4 hectares.
It is an interface fire, which means it has the potential to involve buildings and forest fuel simultaneously. Crews and equipment are working to secure the south and west flanks of the fire with aerial support.
An Evacuation Alert has been issued by the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako. This alert spans from approximately 60 km south along Kenney Dam Road to Knewstubb Lake and 6 km west of Kluskus Forest Service Road along the Natalkuz 500 Road to Knewstubb Lake.
BC Wildfire Service says resources fighting this fire include 51 firefighters, four helicopters, and eight pieces of heavy equipment.
The third-largest is the Tentfire Creek fire near Murray Forest Service Road burning at approximately 715 hectares. It was also caused by lightning and discovered on July 1.
BC Wildfire Service says contingency guard has been completed. Crews and equipment are working to establish a fireguard on the west flank and one on the east flank of the fire and fire guards are connecting to Murray Forest Service Road to utilize existing road infrastructure.
Resources fighting this fire include three firefighters, two helicopters, and three pieces of heavy equipment.
As of July 5 the BC Wildfire Service is responding to 41 fires within the Prince George Fire Centre where 36 are suspected lightning caused and two are suspected human caused and three are undetermined.
The BC Wildfire Service says crews in the Prince George Fire Centre have had been working incredibly hard and have had notable Initial Attack success on many new wildfire starts as 16 fires in the PGFC are now classified as Being Held and 8 are now Under Control.
There are also five wildfires of note listed in the Cariboo Fire Centre and five in the Kamloops Fire Centre.
Smoke may cause individuals to 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.
Environment Canada says if you or those in your care are exposed to wildfire smoke, consider taking extra precautions to reduce your exposure as wildfire smoke is a constantly-changing mixture of particles and gasses which includes many chemicals that can harm your health.