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Wildfire smoke intensifies over Simcoe County

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The shifting winds late Thursday morning are predicted to push high levels of air pollution over the City of Barrie and surrounding areas from smoke emanating from wildfires in Quebec and northeastern Ontario.

The smoke plumes from forest fires put everyone's health at risk, says Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit's Dr. Emil Prikryl, even at low concentrations.

"There can be mild symptoms ranging from sinus irritation, a mild cough, itchy throat, and itchy eyes. You might have had that already. I've experienced that a few times myself over the past couple of days. All the way to much more severe ones like significant shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pain, heart palpitations."

Prikryl noted seniors, young children, anyone with asthma or heart disease, and those working outdoors should take precautions to protect themselves as the air quality worsens.

Residents are encouraged to stay indoors with the windows closed if possible.

Avoid outdoor activity and contact a health care provider if experiencing shortness of breath, wheezing (including asthma attacks), severe cough, dizziness or chest pains.

Take a break from the smoke by entering a clean, cool-air setting, such as a library, shopping mall or community centre.

And officials urge residents to check-in on vulnerable relatives who may be more susceptible to smoke.

Environment Canada forecasts the poor air quality to persist into the weekend.

Fire officials say forest fire smoke carries a campfire-like smell and ask residents to consider what they smell before calling an emergency.

They explain wildfire smoke appears like a haze over the region, while vehicle or structure fires create dark, fast-moving smoke and flames.

Additionally, several areas across the region are under a total fire ban due to the tinder-dry conditions and the threat of rapidly spreading fires.

Forecasted smoke from wildfire travels into the Barrie and surrounding areas on Thurs., June 8, 2023. (Source: Firesmoke.ca)

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