The Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with the Interior Health Authority, has issued a Smoky Skies Advisory for Cariboo, Thompson, Shuswap, Okanagan, Similkameen, Fraser Canyon and Nicola regions because of forest fire smoke that is covering the area.

“The main reason for the smoky skies advisory is not to tell people there’s smoke because people can see and smell the smoke. The objective of the advisory is mainly to get the health messaging that’s built into the advisory out and into the public,” says Air Quality Meteorologist with BC Environment out of Kamloops, Ralph Adams.

Avoiding strenuous outdoor activities is recommended. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, contact your health care provider: difficulty in breathing, chest pain or discomfort, and sudden onset of cough or irritation of airways. Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, and lung or heart disease.

The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

“We have absolutely no way of knowing just. it’s entirely dependent on the weather,” says Adams. “Just as the weather yesterday triggered this enormous number of fires that have occurred and this buildup of smoke, if the weather changes the conditions could change equally as rapidly.”

Adams says Williams Lake has a full air station at the Columneetza school and that the values are changing dramatically. Last value he says he saw was approximately 100 micrograms per cubic metere of particulate matter and that in the summer generally, we are between 10 and 15 micrograms per cubic meter.

The City of Williams Lake continues to monitor fire activity with Williams Lake Fire Department members on standby.

As of 10am Saturday, July 8, the following routes are open:

  • Northbound from 100 Mile House to Williams Lake
  • Northbound from Williams Lake to Quesnel
  • Little Fort at junction of Highway 24 and Highway 5

The Highway from 100 Mile South of the Highway 99 junction to Cache Creek is closed.

An evacuation alert has been issued for South Lakeside from the Seventh Day Adventist Academy
east to the City boundary, with residents, urged to be prepared should an evacuation order be issued.

“Residents are advised to make efforts to reassure relatives of your safety and whereabouts so
emergency phone lines are not affected. As well, the City encourages all residents to pack their
essentials and valuables so they are prepared should an evacuation order be issued for their
residence,” said the City in a media release.