The wildfires in British Columbia have begun to affect Alberta, bringing heavy smoke and a fire on the border between the two provinces.

The fire in Verdant Creek, an area of Kootenay National Park along the border, has grown since it was spotted on Saturday, July 15, according to Parks Canada.

More than 160 wildfires are currently burning in British Columbia, mainly in the central and southern mainland.

Nearly 40,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, including the areas of Ashcroft, Williams Lake, Cache Creek, 100 Mile House, 105 Mile House, 108 Mile House, 150 Mile House and Alexis Creek.

Calgary is feeling the effects of the fires, with smoke impacting the air quality. The air quality was at a seven out of 10 on July 17, which is high risk, according to the Government of Canada’s air quality index. It’s supposed to fluctuate while the fires in both provinces continue.

However, both Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Environment Canada have issued air quality advisories until further notice.

AHS indicated that a number of precautions should be taken while the air quality suffers, especially those with respiratory problems as well as children and the elderly.air qualityExperts suggest keeping track of the air quality with the Air Quality Index on the Environment Canada website, and adjust your behaviour accordingly. Photo courtesy of the Government of Canada.

They advise Calgarians to try to keep out smoke from your home and vehicle by closing the windows and doors, lowering thermostat use and reducing physical activity or anything that puts further stress on your lungs.

“You probably don’t need to change your behaviour necessarily, unless you’re having symptoms in that environment,” warns Dr. Kerri Johannson, a respirologist with the Cummings School of Medicine at the University of Calgary, in an interview with the Calgary Journal on Tuesday, July 18. “If you’re having cough or itchy throat or irritated eyes or shortness of breathe, any change in how you feel, you should modify your behaviour and not be active in that kind of outdoor environment.”

The Verdant Creek fire has also caused road closures in Banff National Park, including all of the Egypt Lake trails, Healy Pass, Simpson Pass, Whistling Valley and Pharoah Creek.

Parks Canada is mainly concerned with keeping visitors safe, according to a statement made on their website on Friday, July 14, regarding the fires in British Columbia.

“Our first priority when managing a wildfire is to ensure the safety of the public and fire personnel, and the protection of property and cultural resources.”

Dr. Johannson recommends tracking the air quality via the Air Quality Health Index while the fires continue to burn.

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