Canadian wildfires spark evacuations, air quality warnings in British Columbia

·1 min read

By Nia Williams and Ismail Shakil

(Reuters) - Growing wildfires in Canada's westernmost province British Columbia prompted air quality warnings and evacuation orders on Monday, including the evacuation of a camp housing workers for the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion project.

There are 193 active wildfires currently burning in B.C., including the Flood Falls fire in the south of the province and Battleship Mountain blaze in the northeast, which together have forced around 1,000 people to leave their homes.

In Vancouver, B.C.'s largest city, Environment Canada extended an air quality warning because of high concentrations of fine particulate matter caused by wildfire smoke, some of which was being blown north from the United States.

On Sunday Vancouver had the worst air quality in the world, according to the World Air Quality Index.

Trans Mountain Corp, owned by the Canadian government, said its 350-person Omahil Camp in Laidlaw, southern B.C., was safely evacuated.

"Construction activities in Spread 5B (the Coquihalla to Hope section) continue where it is safe to do so and plans will adjust based on prevailing conditions and safety," the company said in a statement.

There has been no impact on operations of the existing 300,000 barrel per day Trans Mountain pipeline, which ships crude from Alberta's oil sands to the B.C. coast.

The C$21.4 billion ($16.50 billion) expansion project will nearly triple the capacity of the pipeline but has been beset by ballooning costs and lengthy delays.

($1 = 1.2970 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Nia Williams; Editing by Andrea Ricci)