In the midst of a heatwave, wildfires continue to ravage B.C.’s interior. But it seems the aftermath is heading west, with Vancouver Islanders now urged to brace for smoky skies.

In addition to a heat warning, Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement for communities between Victoria and the Comox Valley, warning of smoke possibly moving into the region over the next day or two.

“The Coastal Fire Centre is receiving numerous calls of generalized smoke in the area,” notes Fire Information Officer, Marg Drysdale.

She continues, “We’re mostly receiving the calls from southern Vancouver Island and the lower mainland, although I recognize it is flowing elsewhere. The smoke is coming from the interior of B.C., we now have outflow winds. It is also mixing and coming up from the United States. There are numerous fires just south of the border.”

Wildfire smoke is a constantly-changing mixture of particles and gases, Environment Canada explains. And even though most of the Island sits on the ‘low’ end of the Air Quality Health Index, the slightest exposure could have a negative effect on your health.

“People with pre-existing health conditions, respiratory infections such as COVID-19, older adults, pregnant women and infants, children, and sensitive individuals are more likely to experience health effects from smoke exposure,” reads a statement.

Those with breathing problems should find a cool, ventilated space inside for the next few days. To trap the smoke outdoors, Environment Canada recommends keeping windows closed at all times, turning to air conditioners to help keep the air cool and filtered.

There are currently 264 wildfires burning in the province, thirteen of which were reported in the last three days alone. The blaze count in the Coastal Fire Centre, which covers Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, sits at 20.

“On the Island, we are dealing with one fire, and that fire is being held. It’s on southern Vancouver Island, it’s in the Duncan area. We’ve made great strides on that fire,” Drysdale adds.