The sun glows a sickly red over Langley City, the result of the haze from wildfires. Dan Ferguson Langley Times

Smoky skies trap B.C. man inside for days

Air quality warning issued for Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley

For the last five days, retired Safeway clerk Wendell Nunes has been trapped inside his Langley home, unable to go outdoors because of the smoke in the air from B.C. wildfires.

“This is the worst I’ve seen,” said the 76-year-old Nunes, who has had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) for more than 20 years and requires oxygen 24 hours a day.

“It limits me,” Nunes said.

“If I was to go out, my walking about would stop (after a short time) because taking a breath is difficult.”

A Metro Vancouver air quality advisory has been in place for the past week for the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley.

A statement issued Monday by the regional authority warned of “high concentrations of fine particulate matter” due to smoke from the fires and said the elevated levels were “expected to persist until there is a change in fire or weather conditions.”

People with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, lung or heart disease, as well as infants and the elderly, were advised to avoid strenuous exercise or long amounts of time outside until the smoke lifts.

Drive BC is warning drivers to be extra observant and keep their headlights and taillights on while driving.

Usually, Nunes, the treasurer of the Langley Better Breathers support group for people with respiratory illness, gets outside a minimum of three times a week, to attend the group’s exercise class at the Timms community centre in Langley City.

Even staying indoors, he said he can feel the effects of the smoke.

“Monday was really bad,” Nunes said.

“Sleep, you don’t get a lot of. You cough.”

He said family and friends of people with respiratory problems should understand that it is especially hard for them to function when the air quality drops.

“Just be supportive,” he said.

READ MORE: Kids, seniors at risk as smoke from distant fires hangs over parts of B.C.

READ MORE: Lower Mainland air quality to hit ‘extreme risk’



dan.ferguson@langleytimes.com

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