FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Officials with the BC Wildfire Service say that residents in Northeast B.C. could begin to see some of the smoke from wildfires burning in the rest of the province begin to dissipate later this week, though they aren’t offering any guarantees.
B.C.’s Chief Fire Information Officer Kevin Skrepnik spoke during a joint press conference this morning with Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth and Forestry Minister Doug Donaldson after the provincial government declared a state of emergency in response to the current wildfire situation.
Skrepnik said that the smoke that has been covering nearly all of B.C., with the exception of Vancouver Island and the North Coast, will be sticking around for the next few days.
Since the weekend, southwesterly winds have been carrying smoke from fires burning in the Bulkley-Nechako region into northeastern B.C.
The smoke was so thick yesterday that the skies turned from day to night during the mid- to late afternoon.
On my way back home tonight from @CityofPG at 6pm driving on the Hart close to Summit Lake surrounded by heavy smoke and a dark red sky. Just spoke w @JohnRustad4BC & fires are close w the Shovel Lake fire now over 310 sq/km!
Be careful out there folks! pic.twitter.com/6vb7wFxamS
— Bob Zimmer MP (@bobzimmermp) August 15, 2018
Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer noticed the phenomenon while driving to Fort St. John on Highway 97 near Summit Lake north of Prince George on Tuesday, and pulled over to record a video posted on Twitter.
Skrepnik explained that while the smoke is an irritant to residents, it is a bit of a blessing in disguise for fire crews, since the reflectivity of the smoke has resulted in cooler temperatures in areas near the fires.
He said that the current weather pattern will last until later this week, when winds are expected to change direction, meaning the smoke will be less likely to drift from the Central Interior over the Rockies.
However, Skrepnik added that while that change in wind direction my reduce the smoke coning from the rest of B.C., there’s no guarantee that smoke from other places – like what Northern B.C. experienced earlier this summer when smoke was said to have possibly drifted over from Europe and Asia – won’t fill the skies.
A smoky skies bulletin that was issued by the Ministry of Environment on Monday remains in effect in Northeast B.C. until further notice.