Silence from government leaders while locals contend with smoke and ash

The vacationing premier had not been heard from in days during the heightened wildfire alert, leading to the hashtag #FindChristyClark.

Vancouver is all but obscured in this satellite image
Vancouver is all but obscured in this satellite image.

A highly unusual, bone-dry summer in the corner of the world known for its surrounding lush, temperate rainforests has locals looking for some reassurance to go with the directives to reduce water usage and resist making campfires.

While Vancouver area residents sought ways to escape the smoke and in some cases ash, the city’s Mayor Gregor Robertson has at this posting been mum on the issue, while the vacationing Premier Christy Clark had not been heard from in days during the heightened wildfire alert, leading to the hashtag #FindChristyClark. (She eventually did tweet her sympathies for the loss of a firefighter in one of the battles against the 50 new blazes on the weekend.)

The prime minister was in town Sunday, but he did not address the highly unusual wildfire conditions. Instead, he and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden were set to discuss global security issues, ongoing instability in the global economy, and the threat posed by ISIS, according to an official from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right, and U.S. Vice President Joe BidenCanadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right, and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in Vancouver Sunday. Canadian Press photo

The 25 nights of fireworks leading up to the three-day Celebration of Light (July 25, 29 and Aug. 1) may have been cancelled late last month due to fire concerns but that didn’t stop a 10-minute show at Third Beach in Stanley Park on July 4. The event was officially referred to as only a “private” display of fireworks that happened to occur hours after firefighters were dousing a small blaze in the same park near the Lions Gate Bridge.

The region’s air quality department says high concentrations of fine particulate matter have been detected from wildfires burning in the surrounding area.

People with chronic medical conditions are advised to avoid strenuous exercise until the advisory is lifted. People with diabetes, lung disease or heart disease are especially at risk, as well as young children and the elderly.

The department says staying  inside or in air−conditioned spaces can reduce exposure to air particulates.

Social media round-up of reaction to the smoke-filled city:

Storify prepared by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud

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