The wildfire smoke that has descended on Greater Victoria this week has led to some residents choosing to wear masks due to poor air quality. (Facebook/Christina Caroline)

VIDEO: Air quality leads to public concern over smoke in Victoria

Shifting winds blamed for delivering heavy smoke from wildfires

Fire departments around Greater Victoria responded to public concern about a dramatic increase in smoke Wednesday night. No new fires have been reported on the lower Island, instead shifting winds are being blamed for delivering more smoke from ongoing wildfires.

The Government of Canada’s Air Quality Index hit 10+ yesterday on Vancouver Island, which is classified as a very high health risk. Less than 12 hours later the air quality had fallen down to a level of 1 in Victoria as a “marine push” brought some much needed fresh Pacific Air. Environment Canada says inland locations will need a bit longer to improve.

Provincial Agriculture Minister Lana Popham wrote on Twitter, “The smoke is thick in Cordova Bay. The smell is so strong I went outside and did a walkabout to survey the scene.”

Complaints were reported from downtown Victoria as well.

“It’s so smokey in downtown tonight. It smells like everyone in the neighbourhood has their fireplaces going x 1000. Reports of ash raining down in places. The fires aren’t even that close. This is scary,” wrote another on social media.

(All photos by Nicole Crescenzi, unless otherwise indicated)

Smoky Skies Bulletin Remains in Effect

While a big change in weather pattern is underway, a special air quality statement for Victoria and all of Vancouver Island remains in effect.

An approaching trough of low pressure is shifting winds to a westerly direction along the coast, where communities are expected to see a gradual improvement in air quality beginning today. This could bring a chance of showers, but is not expected to be enough to calm any current wildfires.

Under conditions of air quality deemed very high risk, it is advised that at-risk populations avoid strenuous activities outdoors. Children and the elderly should also avoid outdoor physical exertion.

The general population is advised to reduce or reschedule strenuous activities outdoors, especially if you experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.

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