OTTAWA — Residents of Vancouver and other communities in British Columbia retreated indoors over the weekend as dense smoke from wildfires in the United States filled the skies, disrupting life in the Pacific Coast province.
The province’s air quality index — established largely to track the effects of national forest fires in the country — reached 10+, its highest rating for pollution, by Monday morning.
“You can actually smell smoke all the time and you can only see about two blocks now,” Chris Johnson, a lawyer in Vancouver, said on Monday morning. “It’s really bad, far beyond what usually comes from forest fires.”
Forest fires, which have been limited in British Columbia this year, often force residents in the province to shelter indoors. But the current retreat has been caused by smoke drifting from the United States rather than blazes elsewhere in the country.
Issa Arrian, a consultant in Vancouver, said that he was initially relieved that the province seemed to have escaped wildfires this year. But now, he said, the smoke has eclipsed 2018, a particularly fearsome forest fire season.
“We don’t have the fires but we have the smoke,” he said. “At least we could own the smoke in 2018. Now it’s like someone is throwing garbage on your lawn and you have to accept it.”
Mr. Arrian cut short an attempt at running on Saturday in part because he noticed how soot from the smoke was accumulating on outdoor furniture in the city. He also said he canceled a youth football practice where he serves as a volunteer coach.
Armel Castellan, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, the
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