Forest fires have occurred in Canada, and the smoke from the fires has caused thick smoke haze to spread and envelop regions in the United States (US). As of now, millions of people in the eastern part of the US have been grappling with unhealthy air quality conditions.
Here are the things known about the forest fire event in Canada that resulted in thick smoke haze in the United States:
1. Canada Hit by Severe Forest Fires
In Quebec alone, around 160 forest fires have ravaged the region, making it the latest hotspot in Canada. Forest fires have engulfed land in various locations for weeks.
Approximately 110 of these forest fires are uncontrolled, leading to ongoing evacuation processes in the largest city in northern Quebec. The Abitibi-Temiscamingue western region, located about 650 kilometers north of Montreal, has also experienced the most severe impact.
Quebec’s Minister of Public Security, Francois Bonnardel, stated that the current situation is “unprecedented” in the province. He added that most of the fires were triggered by human negligence.
Bonnardel noted that unlike the western regions of Canada, Quebec historically has not been as vulnerable to large-scale forest fires like this, “but now everything has burned.”
2. Thick Smoke Blankets US Cities
The smoke from the Canadian forest fires has resulted in thick smoke haze in New York City and several other cities in the United States. As reported by DW on Thursday (8/6), the smoke has spread hundreds of kilometers to reach New York City and New England, United States (US).
In New York City, as reported by LoperOnlince.com on Thursday (8/6), thick smoke was seen shrouding buildings on Tuesday (6/6) and Wednesday (7/6) local time. The sky turned yellow or orange. The city’s icon, the Statue of Liberty, also appeared veiled in a reddish haze due to the forest fires raging in the Quebec and Nova Scotia provinces of Canada.
3. Record Dangerous Air Quality Conditions
on Thursday (8/6), New York City Mayor’s Office, Eric Adams, issued an air quality health advisory. People with respiratory issues such as asthma were advised to reduce heavy outdoor activities.
On Wednesday (7/6) at 5 p.m. local time, New York City recorded an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 484, classified as “hazardous,” said Adams during a press conference on Wednesday. This is the highest record in the city since the 1960s, he stated.
Adams mentioned that air quality conditions were expected to worsen until 9 or 10 p.m. on Wednesday night before temporarily improving overnight and into Thursday morning. However, the conditions were predicted to worsen again on Thursday afternoon and evening “as the smoke moves back over the city,” Adams stated.
4. Current Conditions of the Forest Fires in Quebec
As reported by DW on Thursday (8/6), authorities have ordered approximately 7,500 residents in the remote region of Chibougamau, Quebec, to evacuate.
Quebec’s Prime Minister, Francois Legault, stated that authorities have been monitoring the situation “hour by hour.” He added that the situation in some parts of the province remains “worrisome,” especially in the Abitibi-Temiscamingue region.
In the northern city of Sept-Iles, around 4,400 evacuated residents have been allowed to return home after rainfall helped extinguish the fires.
“We are very happy to see the rain,” Legault said in a press conference in Sept-Iles. Unfortunately, further north, there are still “major fires that will take weeks to fully extinguish,
so we must remain vigilant,” he added.
5. Canada Seeking Assistance from Overseas
Canada is also intensifying its call for international assistance as more than 480 Canadian forest firefighters are struggling to combat the wildfires. Currently, Quebec can only extinguish about 30 fire spots out of the approximately 160 fire spots, according to Legault.
“When I spoke with the premiers of other provinces, they were very overwhelmed,” Legault said. Around 413 fire spots were reported to be burning across the country since Monday (06/05) morning.
Nearly 1,000 firefighters have arrived from Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States. Additionally, around 200 more firefighters from France and additional personnel from the US are expected to arrive soon to assist Canadian authorities.
Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that he spoke with US President Joe Biden over the phone on Wednesday (06/07) to express his gratitude for the “crucial support” in dealing with these fires.