Environment Canada warns of smoky air in northern Saskatchewan

Smoke from forest fires in Fort McMurray, Alta., is covering a large section of north-central Saskatchewan.

Air quality statements issued after smoke from fires in Fort McMurray, Alberta, reaches Saskatchewan

Strong winds are pushing smoke from the Fort McMurray forest fires over to Saskatchewan. This was taken Thursday May 5 in La Loche. (Submitted to CBC)

Strong winds continue to push smoke from northern Alberta into Saskatchewan and air quality statements have been issued for 15 more regions in the province.

Environment Canada said northwest winds are spreading smoke from wildfires in Fort McMurray, Alta., into portions of western Saskatchewan.

Smoke in the province is resulting in poor air quality and reduced visibility in some areas, especially closer to the fire source and near the Alberta border.

This morning, Environment Canada issued special air quality statements for north-western Saskatchewan, including the communities of La Loche, Buffalo Narrows, Beauval and Île à la Crosse, Meadow Lake, Big River, Green Lake and Pierceland. 

Later in the day, the weather office extended air quality statements to include the Saskatoon, Martensville, Warman, Rosthern, Delisle and Wakaw. Air quality statements were also issued for the Battlefords, Unity, Maidstone, St. Walburg, Prince Albert, Duck Lake, Shellbrooke and Spiritwood.

Saskatchewan smoke forecast map

6 years ago
Duration 0:14
A Canadawide smoke forecast as smoke moves out of Fort McMurray through to Saskatchewan.

Those areas are seeing poor air quality and reduced visibility. The statements said smoke near the ground is creating very high health risk conditions. Children, seniors and people with lung conditions are especially at risk.

The La Loche Community School posted an update on its Facebook page saying they are sending students who have asthma or lung and heart related issues home because of the deteriorating air quality. The school is asking parents to send their kids to school with bottled water as well.
Smoke rolls into Saskatoon's skyline Thursday night as strong winds push smoke from Fort McMurray down to central Saskatchewan. (Andree-Anne Cote-St. Laurent/CBC)

The air quality in Spiritwood, Sask. has become so poor officials are asking people to refrain from doing any physical activity outside.

This afternoon the first signs of smoke and haze from the fires in Fort McMurray trickled over Saskatoon and the smell of smoke was present downtown.
Smoke from the Fort McMurray forest fires creeps into Saskatoon Thursday evening. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC)

Lung association concerned with smoke in the air

The smoky sky migrating into Saskatoon has the Lung Association of Saskatchewan sounding the alarm to everyone who walks, cycles and drives; whether they have breathing problems or not.

Jill Hubich with the provincial lung association said her organization is extremely concerned with the deteriorating air quality that's coming and the effect it will have on the general public.

The association encourages those with lung diseases and breathing problems to stay inside in a cool, air-conditioned room and to avoid any activity outside. She stressed people who rely on medication should fill their prescriptions and keep them handy in case of an emergency.
Jill Hubich with the provincial lung association says smoke coming from the forest fires in Fort McMurray can cause harm to anyone, whether or not they have breathing problems or lung infections. (Don Somers/CBC)

She added even healthy children and adults can still suffer from the effects of smoke-filled air.

"They may find that their allergies are worse, they may experience headaches, but if you're finding that you're short of breath or if you have chest tightness or a cough you should visit a healthcare provider," Hubich said.

Signs of distress

It's important to know when someone is having and asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) lung attack. Hubich said they will be very short of breath and will have trouble breathing.

"If they're tired or lethargic, if you're finding that their lips are slightly blue or are sweaty and grey, you really want to get to the emergency department as soon as you can," she said.

Anyone with questions or concerns can call the lung association with any questions at 1-888-566-LUNG (5864).


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