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'Slow improvement' expected in northwestern Ontario air quality, weather forecasters say

Aug 19, 2018 02:45PM ● By Editor
Smoky conditions in northwestern Ontario could improve Sunday, Environment Canada says.(MNRF/Submitted)

Environment Canada says, despite continuing air quality advisories in northwestern Ontario Sunday, relief from the smoky conditions in western portions of the region could be on the way.

The weather office maintained special air quality statements for a number of areas, including around Kenora, Dryden, Vermilion Bay, Fort Frances, Red Lake, Ear Falls, Sioux Lookout, eastern portions of Lac Seul, Pikangikum, Sandy Lake, Deer Lake and North Caribou Lake.

However, the reports stated that "slow improvement is expected" Sunday afternoon as north winds were expected to bring in clearer air as a cold front passes through.

"If you look out any sort of distance, you can see that ... blue haze that makes things far away a little less defined," said Chris Marchand, a fire information officer with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry in Dryden.

"The hope is that as this cold front progresses ... through the region that some of that will be cleared out."

Officials with Environment Canada said that the higher-than-normal levels of air pollution were from smoke plumes from forest fires in Western Canada as well as blazes in the Red Lake area. Forest fire officials added that communities in close proximity to some larger fires in the Red Lake, Sioux Lookout and Thunder Bay districts may also see smoke.

That could cause increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath in people, Environment Canada said, with children, seniors and those with cardiovascular or lung disease particularly at risk.

The ministry said three new fires, all one hectare in size or smaller, started Saturday. Marchand said, as of Sunday afternoon, there were 60 active fires in the northwest.

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