More fire bans issued as smoke from Ontario, Quebec wildfires lingers in Toronto
Published Tuesday, June 6, 2023 1:04PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 6, 2023 9:58PM EDT
A large portion of the province has been placed under a Regional Fire Zone, meaning that open flames are not permitted due to the high risk of forest fires. On Tuesday, a local fire ban for Aurora and Newmarket was declared.
Officials noted the ban will be issued across York Region by local fiire chiefs.
"Due to current weather patterns and no significant rain in the foreseeable future, we need to take steps to avoid large fires," Ian Laing, Central York Fire Services Fire Chief and the York Region Fire Coordinator, said in a statemend issued Tuesday night.
"Every fire decreases our air quality. By banning recreational fires we're doing what we can to protect those in our community and limit contributing to the poor air quality."
An air quality advisory by Environment Canada remains in effect on Tuesday for most of the Greater Toronto Area due to the “high levels” of smoke pollution.
“Wildfire smoke can be harmful to everyone’s health even at low concentrations. Continue to take actions to protect your health and reduce exposure to smoke,” Environment Canada said in Tuesday’s updated advisory.
According to the federal weather agency’s Air Quality Health Index, the risk to those in the city is currently moderate at a level 4 and will climb higher to level 5 later tonight.
But the smoky air will likely continue until at least the end of the week.
Ontario's largest school board issued a statement on Tuesday saying that outdoor events planned for Wednesday and Thursday have been rescheduled or moved indoors.
"While outdoor recesses may continue – students are encouraged to avoid strenuous activity and schools will, if supervision levels allow, make every attempt to accommodate those who wish to stay inside or are experiencing symptoms such as coughing or throat irritation," officials witih the Toronto District School Board said.
Toronto's Catholic District School Board says they have recommended that students with respiratory conditions remain indoors during recess and that HEPA purifiers could be helpful in reducing the smell of smoke in the classroom.
Canada’s Wildfire Smoke Prediction System (FireWork) appears to show thicker volumes of smoke blowing southeast towards the city and coming to a head above the GTA on Thursday evening.
Those in the area are advised to limit outdoor activities and strenuous activities as much as possible as the city remains under the advisory.
“If you have difficulty breathing, reduce your activities or stop altogether,” the agency said.
Images from residents across southwestern Ontario posted to social media show the sun all but blotted out by the intense smoke in the area.
As of Tuesday morning, there are 160 forest fires burning in Quebec and at least 47 in northern Ontario.
On Monday, Canada's emergency preparedness minister said the wildfires burning across the country, which also include those in British Columbia and Nova Scotia, appear to be some of the most severe ever seen in the country.
Bill Blair went on to say that the current forecast for the next few months points to the potential for continued higher-than-normal fire activity this year.
The minister responsible for natural resources in Ontario said a little spark can turn into a serious blaze.
"The preparation that we put into wildland fire season is immense, and the investments that we have made to ensure that we can properly attack these fires is considerable," Graydon Smith said Tuesday.
"At this time, we don't have communities under threat and we're working to make sure that that doesn't happen."