British Columbia

Air quality poor in parts of B.C. as more than 200 wildfires burn across province

Air quality alerts remain in place for several areas in B.C.'s southern Interior on Tuesday as more than 200 wildfires continue to burn through hundreds of square kilometres of the province.

Smoke expected to hang over Okanagan, Thompson-Nicola for a few days

A helicopter prepares to drop water on a wildfire burning in Lytton, B.C., on July 2. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Air quality alerts remain in place for several areas in B.C.'s southern Interior on Tuesday as more than 200 wildfires continue to burn in the province.

Environment Canada said parts of the Okanagan Valley and Thompson-Nicola region will be most affected by smoky conditions, with a haze expected to hang over the regions for the next few days.

Smoke from the Cutoff Creek and Chilako fires, west of Prince George, will have a particular effect on central B.C. over the next 24 hours.

"Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath,'' the agency said.

Children, seniors and those with heart or lung problems are especially vulnerable.

The air quality health index rating was worst in Kamloops, B.C., as of early afternoon, reading nine on a scale out of 10.

B.C. Premier Horgan is providing an update on the state of the wildfires in the province at 3:30 p.m. PT, after meeting with representatives in Lytton, B.C. as well as wildfire and emergency management officials. CBC News will livestream the news conference.

The wildfire service says 213 active wildfires were burning in B.C. as of Tuesday morning, with at least 37 sparked over the previous two days.

At least 24 are believed to have been caused by lightning, while the website says two are blamed on human activity and the cause of the rest is undetermined.

Evacuation orders are in place for five wildfires, including one near Lytton that covered 76 square kilometres but didn't grow significantly on Sunday or Monday.

Fire risk across the majority of B.C. is rated as high, with pockets of extreme risk in the Okanagan.

A dangerous heat wave has added to the weather woes in several locations, including the Fraser Canyon, where the community of Lytton was wiped out by fire last week after setting record-high temperatures just shy of 50 C.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District said it's planning a bus tour for evacuees from the village to survey the damage.

Debbie Sell of the district's emergency operations centre said a date has not been set because it's still too dangerous to enter the area, but she says everything is ready to go once it is safe. 

Smoke from the Mckay Creek wildfire north of Lillooet, B.C., is seen on Monday. (Twitter/B.C. Wildfire Service)

Anyone placed under an evacuation order must leave the area immediately. 

Evacuation centres have been set up throughout the province to assist anyone evacuating from a community under threat from a wildfire. To find the centre closest to you, visit the Emergency Management BC website.

Evacuees are encouraged to register with Emergency Support Services online, whether or not they access services at an evacuation centre.

Those looking for loved ones can contact the Canadian Red Cross for family reunification services at 1-800-863-6582.

With files from CBC News

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