Smoke stuck in valley

Chelsea Powrie

UPDATE: 3:30 p.m

According to an official, the smoke situation in the Okanagan valley is a "catch 22."

"Wind would take the smoke out of the valley but that also increases fire behaviour," said Noelle Kekula, incident fire information officer for the Okanagan. 

She said smoke from the multiple fires in the valley is just "hunkered in" due to lack of wind.

UPDATE 11:42 a.m.

Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement in effect for the entire Okanagan.

Smoke is causing poor air quality and reducing visibility.

The alert impacts: Kelowna, West Kelowna and Peachland; South Okanagan including Penticton, Summerland, Naramata, Keremenos, Oliver and Osoyoos; North Okanagan; Kinbasket including Kinbasket reservoir south of Valemount; and Yellowhead including McBride and Valemount and all communities within the southern half of the Robson Valley.

A Smoky Skies Bulletin is continued for Vanderhoof and surrounding areas.

When these types of smokey and hot conditions prevail people may experience symptoms like increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath.

Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk.

You are being advised to stay inside if you have breathing difficulties. Find an indoor place that's cool and ventilated. Using an air conditioner that cools and filters air may help. If you open the windows you may let in more polluted air. If your home isn't air-conditioned, consider going to a public place (library, shopping mall, recreation centre) that is air-conditioned.

ORIGINAL 6:36 a.m.

As emergency crews and Okanagan residents scramble to find the latest information on wildfires burning in the region, people awoke to the smell of smoke and an orange sun.

Heavy smoke from wildfires has blanketed the valley which is having a serious impact on air quality.

According to the provinces air quality website, they have listed the Central Okanagan as 10+, higher than the highest rating.

The worst spot is near Penticton, it gets slightly better as we move up the valley but Kelowna is still listed as very high, then by Vernon, the smoke begins to dissipate as they are rated as a two on a scale of one to ten.

Residents are advised to avoid strenuous outdoor activity - especially children and the elderly and anyone with underlying breathing or heart conditions.

Conditions are anticipated to fluctuate throughout the day as wind and smoke conditions change.

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