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Air quality advisory remains in place

This fire, visible near Heffley Lake, is one of many open burns contributing to smoke in the air right now.
Image Credit: Anthony Stahn
November 17, 2014 - 3:22 PM


THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - It is mid-November and yes, that is smoke in the air.

Unlike the summer when large wildfires in northern B.C. caused air quality advisories the smoke visible throughout the region is due to open burning.

“There are hundreds of burn registrations issued,” Kayla Pepper of B.C. Wildfire says, adding regulations still need to be followed.

Those regulations include checking with the Ministry of Environment to make sure venting indexes allow for open burning. As of Monday, they do not.

“If you’re burning right now, you’re going against the regulations,” Ralph Adams with the ministry says. “Looking at the venting indexes, there should be no burning.”

The long term forecast shows a system starting to come our way later in the week, but Adams says it is too far out to know for sure when and if it will be enough to clear out the smoke.

“The only way these events end is if we get wind and atmospheric mixing to clear out the valley,” he says. “We need a change of weather.”

The sudden ‘slightly abnormal’ increase in air quality readings on Friday had Adams wondering about the potential of a nearby fire, but Pepper says B.C. Wildfire is not conducting any burns and there are no wildfires in the area. Any smoke is simply from open burning.

While an air quality advisory has not been issued for the Okanagan Adams does say the levels of particulate matter in Vernon and Kelowna are ‘close’ to levels that would see the ministry issue an advisory.

He notes advisories are very localized and only issued for areas where air quality reading equipment is set up, usually in larger centres.

Persons with chronic underlying medical conditions should postpone strenuous exercise until the advisory is lifted. Staying indoors and in air conditioned spaces helps to reduce fine particulate exposure. Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have diabetes, and lung or heart disease.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2014

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