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Image / Agenda / Breaking Stories

Here’s what’s happening with the Canada wildfires and smoky US skies


By Sarah Gill
08th Jun 2023

@caroleradziwill

Here’s what’s happening with the Canada wildfires and smoky US skies

Air quality alerts have been issued to at least 13 US states as the smoke from the Quebec wildfires is carried south.

Over the past six weeks, wildfires have spread across Canada causing mass evacuations and burning through millions of hectares of land, putting them on track to have their most destructive wildfire season in history.

Spreading from the western provinces to Quebec, climate change exacerbated the issue with record heat and drought just one month on from the day that Canada experienced its hottest day ever. According to CBS News half of Canada’s wildfires are started by lightning in the normal season, but those fires account for more than 85% of wildfire destruction. The other half are human-caused.

Northern Quebec’s largest town Chibougamau has been evacuated as firefighters worked to beat back blazes in the northern and northwestern parts of the province. According to the province’s forest fire prevention agency, more than 150 forest fires were burning in the province, including more than 110 deemed out of control.

Given that the Quebec-area fires are big and relatively close to Rhode Island, northeastern US states — including Boston, New York City and Philadelphia — and parts of Eastern Canada are being blanketed in a yellowish, sepia haze, turning the air acrid, and reducing visibility.

US Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted: “Right now, 98 MILLION people on the East Coast are under air quality alerts from Canadian fires and, last night, NYC had the worst air quality in the world. Climate change makes wildfires more frequent and widespread. If we do nothing, this is our new reality. It’s time to act.”

The Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, also spoke out on the city’s air pollution ranking: “While this may be the first time we’ve experienced something like this on this magnitude… it is not the last. Climate change accelerated these conditions.”

Experts advise that those in the alerted areas check air quality alerts regularly via AirNow.gov, the EPA’s website, or via smartphone app. Cautioning ‘sensitive groups’, which include those with respiratory-related health conditions, who have been advised to monitor any symptoms closely, and make sure their medications are available or not expired. Children and the elderly are encouraged to remain indoors, run air purifiers, and wear an N95 mask to reduce exposure to pollutants when venturing outside.

Featured image via @caroleradziwill on Instagram