Smoky conditions in Yukon come with health risk

Yukon Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley says breathing smoke can be a serious risk for infants, the elderly or those with heart and lung problems.

Infants and the elderly most at risk, says health official

Smoke is becoming a fact of life for Yukoners as more than 80 forest fires burn around the territory.

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon's Medical Officer of Health, says breathing smoke can be a serious risk for infants, the elderly or people with heart and lung problems. His advice is to stay indoors, avoid strenuous exercise and keep medication handy.

NASA's Aqua satellite collected this natural-colour image of forest fires burning in Yukon on July 14, 2013. Actively burning areas are outlined in red. (Jeff Schmaltz/NASA )

The largest fires in the Yukon are blazing through the forests east of Carmacks. Hanley says planning is underway to help those most vulnerable.

In Carmacks, the local nurse has made plans with individuals who are known to have chronic respiratory conditions in the event that symptoms increase or smoke rolls in.

Emergency measures planner Richard Cherpak said no communities, including Carmacks, are in immediate danger.

"This fire is a known commodity," he said. "It is a known distance. We have actions to be taken if it does make a run, so there is some time."

Firefighters are urging everyone to be careful to avoid lighting any new fires that could quickly get out of hand. Weather forecasters are calling for continued warm weather and the potential for lightning storms.