The colours around Okanagan Lake took on a smoke-tinted hue earlier this month. Air quality has deteriorated as smoke from fires in the United States has blanketed much of British Columbia. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

EDITORIAL: Clearing the smoke

Wildfires have resulted in heavy smoke and poor air quality

The smoke has cleared, but the memory of the past couple of weeks will continue to linger.

Smoke from wildfires in the western United States drifted north, blanketing much of the province and leaving us with poor air quality.

Many could smell the smoke and feel it in their lungs and eyes.

And many will remember hazy skies and the poor visibility associated with this year’s wildfires.

The orange-tinted scenes are reminiscent of post-apocalyptic stories.

READ ALSO: Tired of the smoke? People on Facebook suggest throwing rocks at it

For those with underlying chronic health issues, particularly those with breathing difficulties, the smoke has been something far worse than an annoyance.

This year is not the only time our province has been affected by wildfire smoke.

Three of the past four summers have been defined by smoky skies as wildfires raged.

The summers of 2017 and 2018 were the worst on record for wildfires in British Columbia, and during those summers, our air quality in many parts of this province was worse than the air quality in some of the world’s most polluted cities.

Last year was a pleasant reprieve from the smoke, and this year, the fire season in British Columbia has been far less devastating than in other recent years.

However, the fires burning in Washington, Oregon and California this summer and fall have affected us just as, in past years, smoke from fires here has drifted into other parts of Canada and the United States.

Smoke does not care about provincial or international borders, and fires burning in one area can affect the air quality in another area.

And while the smoke has been a health concern for us here, those living closer to the fires have been affected much more severely.

Measures are needed to prevent or at least reduce the risk of future wildfires of this magnitude.

— Black Press

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