Canadian wildfire smoke creeps back into area

by Geoff Fox

Smoke from the Canadian wildfires seeped through the trees along the C&O Canal near the Bowels House in Hancock on Thursday morning, June 29, giving it an eerie look

Earlier this month, smoke from Canadian wildfires made its way into the Mid Atlantic region, causing hazy conditions and affecting daily life and health conditions.

After some rain, the smoke cleared the area, but it came back with a vengeance and last week was affecting more areas than before.

According to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC), smoke from wildfires are mainly in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Northwestern Territories in western Canada, as well as Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia in eastern Canada.

As of last Friday morning, June 30, there were 499 active fires with 8.1 million hectares, or around 19.7 million acres, of land has been burned as a result of the wildfires.

That number includes 230 out of control fires, 94 being held, and 175 under control.

The hazy conditions in our area started picking up last Wednesday as areas were beginning to disappear in the haze.

Along Interstate 68, most notably at the cut in Sideling Hill Mountain, travelers couldn’t see the valley to the east or the farms to the west.

In Hancock, the smoke gave the view a gray tint.

Along the C&O Canal towpath, the smoke, seeping in through the trees, added an eerie feel.

On their website, the Washington County Health Department was warning people of a Air Quality Alert because of the unhealthy particles in the air.

“Limit outdoor activities and consider wearing a KN95 mask if you are out,” the alert read at the top of the page.

The Maryland Department of Health also recommended people with heart or lung disease, older adults, children and teens should avoid strenuous outdoor activities, keep outdoor activities short, and consider moving physical activities indoors or rescheduling them to avoid exposure to the smoky conditions.

They also suggested everyone choose less strenuous activities, like walking instead of running, so they wouldn’t breathe as hard; shorten the amount of time they are active outdoors and to save outdoor activities until the air quality is better.

A smoky haze covering the valleys greeted drivers as they traveled along Interstate 68 late last week. The smoke was from Canadian wildfires.