British Columbia

Hazy skies and warm weather combination to continue all week in B.C.

The air quality has improved slightly in some areas of the province, but officials say advisories will remain in effect for a few more days.

Air quality improves in some regions, but smoke expected to hang around for a few more days

A fisherman on Kamloops Lake was surrounded by smoke on Monday. Kamloops was one of the worst areas of the province for air quality this week, with an extreme 18 out of 10 rating on the Air Quality Health Index. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Air quality in B.C. continues to be a concern Thursday as nearly a dozen areas of the province are in "high risk" conditions.

Environment Canada extended its air quality advisories for many parts of the province on Thursday. The alert now covers a stretch of the province between eastern Vancouver Island to Elk Valley, not far from the Alberta border. 

Smoke from dozens of wildfires created the haze over the province, which started to spread to the South Coast on Monday.

The agency said the conditions are expected to continue for several more days.

Smoky skies have hung around much of the Interior and Cariboo regions for the past several weeks.

As of 7:30 a.m., the air quality in several B.C. communities has reached at least a seven out of 10 on the Air Quality Health Index:

  • Central/Eastern Fraser Valley.
  • Kamloops.
  • Metro Vancouver.
  • Squamish.
  • Victoria/Saanich.
  • WestShore.
  • Whistler.
  • Williams Lake.

Those numbers are down from Wednesday, which saw ratings in Kamloops and Whistler peak at 18 and 12 out of 10, respectively.

Last month, air quality in Williams Lake — which was eventually evacuated due to a nearby wildfire — hit an extreme 36 out of 10.

When the index shows a number of seven or higher, Environment Canada recommends that children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions "take it easy" and reduce outdoor activities.

The general population should do the same if they start to cough or feel an itch in their throat.

Heat wave

Temperatures have also prompted warnings from provincial officials, with 100-year-old records being broken in several areas on Wednesday.

Environment Canada said temperatures in the Lower Mainland are expected to hang around the mid-30s until the end of the week.

Officials have been reminding locals that heat can be deadly, advising residents to stay out of the sun and avoid strenuous exercise. The City of Vancouver has even installed temporary water fountains to keep people hydrated.