Smoke from the Mitchell Ridge prescribed fire in Kootenay National Park, 2008
© Parks Canada
Smoke resulting from prescribed fires and wildfires raises concerns for park visitors and residents and it affects everyone differently. Parks Canada takes people’s health concerns very seriously and our fire specialists work hard to reduce the impact of smoke in all our fire management activities.
Each fire has its own smoke characteristics - the amount and type of smoke depends on a number of factors, including the type of vegetation, how well it burns, temperature, moisture and wind. Using prescribed fire over time can actually help reduce the chance of large, smoke producing wildfires. We can control the size, timing and rate of burning to reduce the amount and duration of smoke. By lighting during good venting conditions, smoke disperses high into the atmosphere. Taking advantage of approaching wetter weather can shorten the smouldering period of the fire - which means less smoke.
Smoke forecasting and monitoring
Our ability to forecast and monitor smoke conditions has improved in recent years.
Parks Canada has a smoke notification list for those who are extremely sensitive to smoke and would like advance warning of burning operations in the mountain parks please contact your Fire Communications Officer.
The Western Canada Blue Sky Forecasting system provides hour by hour forecasts of smoke from forest fires in Alberta and British Columbia (April-September).
Satellite images of fires and smoke dispersal
Air quality and health information related to air quality
Alberta: Alberta Air Quality Information (Calgary)
(left) Smoke from the Vermilion wildfire near the Town of Banff © Amar Athwal / 2009 (right) Hoodoo prescribed burn in Yoho National Park © Parks Canada
British Columbia: B.C. Air Quality Information
Health Warnings: Health Link Alberta and Alberta Health Advisories