(Smoke over Langford Tuesday morning/Photo by Essencia Leandro)

Victoria residents woke this morning to a sickly haze as smoke carried over from Washington state blankets the city.

Major wildfires in the eastern part of the state, reaching into Idaho have sent plumes of smoke into the air and forced several evacuations in the region.

Douglas County Sheriffs Office tweeted multiple evacuation notices, including a Level 3 notice for Mansfield — a town with a population just under 400 — and a level 2 notice for Bridgeport, with a population just over 2,500.

According to the USDA, a level 3 evacuation notice means “get out immediately” while a level 2 evacuation notice means “be prepared to leave.”

The fire in Douglas County is a combination of two major fires: the Cold Springs Canyon fire and the Pearl Hill fire. It has reportedly grown to over 170,000 acres in size.

In Idaho, the Hunter Fire in Bonner County led to an evacuation notice for the town of Blanchard, with a population just under 300.

The website firesmoke.ca provides forecast information for wildfire conditions including smoke and showed a likelihood of persistent haze over the next two days.

Health Canada advises that during periods of wildfire smoke, people should do the following:

  • Limit outdoor activity and strenuous physical activities as much as possible. If you have difficulty breathing, reduce your activities or stop altogether.
  • Drink lots of water to help your body cope with the smoke.
  • At home:
    • keep windows and doors closed as long as the temperature is comfortable.
    • use a clean, good quality air  filter (such as HEPA)  in your ventilation system. Also, use recirculation settings on your ventilation system to prevent smoke from entering your home.
    • use a portable air cleaner that uses HEPA filtration to remove smoke from your home.
    • avoid vacuuming and burning candles, incense or other materials.
  • Keep vehicle windows closed and set the ventilation system to recirculate.
  • Check in on others who are in your care or live nearby who may be more vulnerable to smoke. Please respect the guidance on physical distancing from your local authorities.

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