Vancouver’s air quality affected as several wildfires rage through the province over the long weekend.
More than 1,000 firefighters were deployed to battle at least 11 fires in the Lower Mainland, but the situation was only made worse by a new round of smoke and ash from three wildland fires and two major wildfires that broke out across British Columbia on Wednesday night.
At about 11 p.m. on Friday, smoke and ash from the Black Sky Mine fire were visible in Vancouver, as well as in the city of Whistler.
The BC Wildfire Service says it wasn’t clear for certain whether the black smoke was the result of an ignition source or a small fire burning in the mine’s pit.
However, the National Weather Service in Vancouver issued a red band alert warning that the smoke was “very serious.”
The alert went on to cite “high levels” of pollution from “uncontrolled wildfire activity.”
The warning was in reference to the Black Sky Mine fire in Pitt River, as well as two other wildfires, the Black Thunder fire in Squamish and the Big Tree fire in Lillooet.
All three fires were still burning Friday afternoon, with smoke and hot ash hanging in the air in the mountains.
Smoke from the Black Sky Mine fire in Pitt River, B.C. Friday afternoon. (CBC)
The fires have been spreading out of control in areas that are not dense forests, meaning they are spread at a faster rate than they are contained.
The Black Sky Mine fire, which first sparked in 2013, remains the most dangerous wildfire in the province. The Black Thunder and Big Tree fires are still burning in southern Squamish.
The Black Sky Mine fire is approximately 10 per cent contained, according to the BC Wildfire Service.
In addition to the fires, wind and rain have combined to create difficult conditions for firefighters battling the Black Sky Mine fire.
The Black Sky Mine fire is approximately 10 per cent contained. (CBC)
“With several strong winds and high clouds, it has been almost impossible to contain the fire at the mine,” said BC Wildfire Service spokesperson Ryan Zylstra.
On Thursday evening, a firefighting aircraft from the WestJet Aviation Crew began carrying a second firefighting crew to contain the Black Sky fire, a spokesperson with WestJet said.
“Our crews were there to assist in the fire, but we didn