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This has not been a good year for Vancouver Islanders who like to breathe freely
This has not been a good year for Vancouver Islanders who enjoy breathing freely. If we're not being kept inside in order to avoid a deadly respiratory illness, we're staying inside to avoid air that has literally been poisoned by apocalyptic wildfires in the United States. In the gallery below, Capital Daily photographer captured some haunting images of Victoria under the smoke.
If Victoria ever decided to pivot its economy towards coal-powered heavy industry, this is about the scene we could expect at the Inner Harbour. While western Oregon is getting the worst of the smoke, Victoria's air is nevertheless rivaling that of the world's most polluted megacities, including Beijing.
The vantage point of Mount Doug makes the smoke seem particularly thick over Saanich.
Ironically, all this smoke has struck Canada's West Coast in a year that BC has actually done pretty well at containing its own fires. Favourable conditions and a severe curtailment of human activity in the woods has left BC's forests almost entirely wildfire-free as of this writing. This hasn't meant a break for the province's firefighting resources, however, as many of them have been dispatched to California.
Foghorns are blaring continuously along the coast to warn of decreased visibility on the water, which might explain why all these vessels are tied up in what would otherwise be prime late summer sailing weather.
Capital Daily does not recommend looking directly at the sun in normal times, but the smoke has reduced it to a pale orb in the sky seemingly no brighter than a full moon. If this smoke were to continue for an extended period of time, there's a very real possibility that Victorians would have to start worrying about developing rickets, a softening of the bones caused by Vitamin D deficiencies.
If not for the slight tinge of a sickly orange, this could just be a photo of a conventional foggy day in September Victoria. But if not for hectares upon hectares of American forest on fire, this would have been an image of blue skies.
While this Victoria deer need only contend with difficulty breathing and potentially an ashy aftertaste, countless of its California cousins have been killed by surging wildfires. Wildfire need fires to clear forests for foraging, but it doesn't make them any less traumatic when they come.
Later this week, Capital Daily will be delving into the many human-caused factors that caused California to be struck particularly hard by wildfires this season, but it's important to remember that forest fires remain a natural process that is nothing new to the region. The land comprising what is now Victoria, in fact, was shaped by millennia of Indigenous burning practices, making for an environment of golf-friendly meadows, rather than the thicker forest on other areas of Vancouver Island.