"Yesterday was apocalyptic" after forest fire smoke blows into Red Lake, Ont.

The forest fire season heating up in northwestern Ontario has caused smoky conditions in many communities in the northwestern reaches of the province.

Environment Canada issues Air Quality Statement for Red Lake, Ear Falls, Sandy Lake, Pickle Lake

The sky in Red Lake, Ont., is orange and brown after smoke from forest fires in northwestern Ontario blew into the community. (Rhonda Beckman/Facebook)

The forest fire season heating up in northwestern Ontario has caused smoky conditions in many communities in the northwestern reaches of the province.

"Yesterday was apocalyptic," said Rhonda Beckman, who lives in Red Lake, Ont. "Today's not so bad."

"The sky was this bizarre orangy-brown colour and there was just billowing of, it was smoke, just billowing smoke kind of surrounding us everywhere."

Beckman described the air in the community at the northern end of Highway 105 as "thick."

"Everything is completely still, it's stagnant, it's sticky."

Beckman said some people in the community pack bags when smoke inundates the area, with many still remembering Red Lake Fire 14, the fire that burned close to the community in 1980, forcing an evacuation that lasted 10 days.

That evacuation was, at the time, the largest evacuation in Canada during peace time. 

Beckman joked the smoke in the community is a precursor to the large festival slated for Red Lake this weekend.

"It's like ribfest for Norseman Days has already started. It's so smoky."

Environment Canada issued a special air quality statement for Red Lake, Ear Falls, Pickle Lake, Sandy Lake and Pikangikum, noting poor air quality and reduced visibility because of the smoke.

The Northwestern Health Unit also issued an air quality advisory for Red Lake and Ear Falls. 

The health unit notes people at the most risk - children, the elderly, pregnant women, people with heart of lung conditions and people with active and physical jobs are advised to reduce the amount of time they spend in the forest fire smoke and the amount of air breathed in.

About the Author

Jeff Walters

Reporter/Editor

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.