Carelessness prompts Surrey fire alert

Surrey residents are being urged to be extra careful with smoking materials and barbecuing as grass and boulevard fires spike in the heat.

A thick haze of wildfire smoke turned the sun orange over the Lower Mainland.

Surrey residents are being urged to be extra careful with smoking materials and any barbecuing they might be attempting.

Late Sunday afternoon, a fire advisory was issued in the city due to the large volume of calls related to smoke in Surrey from to wildfires elsewhere in the province – and because of the sheer number of calls to the Surrey Fire Service.

By 5 p.m., they’d responded to 60 calls in 12 hours, reflecting a marked increase in grass fires, bark mulch fires and fires in boulevards along roadways as a result of the hot, dry weather and the careless disposal of smoking material, the alert said.

Additionally, residents calling to report a fire are asked to ensure they can provide a location of the fire source or where the smoke originates.

Hot sunny conditions are expected to continue for the rest of the week. The alert says residents are further urged to maintain their diligence in handling and disposing of cigarettes and smoking materials.

A complete ban on open flames is in effect in all City of Surrey parks, trails and open areas. People should use extreme caution when using smoking materials on grass or ground covers in parks and public spaces, the advisory added.

Smoke chokes region

An air quality advisory issued Sunday afternoon for Metro Vancouver is continuing and has been extended to the Fraser Valley as a result of smoke blowing into the region from wildfires raging across B.C.

Metro Vancouver air quality planner Geoff Doerksen said fine particulate concentrations from the smoke have hit levels never seen before across the entire Lower Mainland.

“Seeing these heavy smoke levels mix down to the ground is unprecedented for our region,” he said.

The air quality objective for fine particulate is 25 micrograms per cubic metre measured as a 24-hour rolling average.

Readings four times that level – 100 micrograms or higher – were recorded Monday morning at stations in North Vancouver, Burnaby and Vancouver, where the highest reading of 121.6 was at Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children.

Other areas with particulate levels double to triple the objective included Surrey at 81.7, Langley at 67.2, Abbotsford at 66.2 and Chilliwack at 50. Hope was less smoky at 10.

“We’ve never seen this before,” Doerksen said. “We’re exceeding our fine particulate objectives at all of our stations in Metro Vancouver as well as our Fraser Valley stations.”

There’s no single fire to blame for the smoke.

Significant amounts of smoke are coming into the Lower Mainland from fires burning west of Pemberton. But nearby fires are also burning on Vancouver Island and on the Sunshine Coast near Sechelt, with more distant fires from the interior also contributing to poor air quality across the region.

– Black Press