A smoky skies advisory was issued last Thursday (August 20) for Port Renfrew and the Cowichan Valley, including Lake Cowichan, due to the forest fire smoke covering the area.
The advisory, issued by the Ministry of Environment in conjunction with Island Health, was prompted by a wildfire near Lizard Lake, 27 km south by southwest of Cowichan Lake. Reported to be 50 hectares (123.5 acres) on August 12, the fire has since grown to 393 hectares (971.1 acres), though according to the Coastal Fire centre it is now at least 70 per cent contained.
Following the beginning of the blaze, on August 13, Island Health and the Ministry of Health issued a smoky skies advisory that persisted until early last week, when the smoke finally cleared.
According to the Ministry of Environment, smoke concentrations will vary widely as winds, fire behaviour and temperature change. The Ministry also warns that exposure to increased smoke concentration poses a concern for some residents, particularly infants, the elderly and those with medical conditions such as heart or lung disease, and that those at risk should avoid strenuous activites or prolonged exposure to smoke during the advisory. Individuals who experience difficulty in breathing, chest pain or discomfort or a sudden onset of cough or airway irritation should contact their health care provider. While smoke levels are lower indoors, smoke particles can still be present, so be aware of any signs or symptoms.
Residents are also reminded to limit contributors like smoking or burning materials while indoors.
The smoky skies advisory will remain active until further notice. Up-to-date information can be found on www.bcairquality.ca.