Smoke from wildfires in Canada worsens air quality in the northern United States

Hundreds of wildfires continued to burn across Canada on Tuesday, sending smoke to parts of the United States as air quality advisories were issued from Minnesota to Massachusetts.

In Ontario, a layer of haze blanketed parts of Ottawa and Toronto, where Canadian officials warned residents of poor air quality, as smoke billowed over parts of New York state and Vermont. All of New York City was on air quality alert Tuesday due to smoke; in the afternoon, the Manhattan skyline was obscured by hazy skies.

More than 400 active fires struck in Canada on Tuesday, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center, exacerbating an already active fire season that is only expected to get worse. More than 200 fires were burning out of control, the agency said.

In eastern Canada, Quebec was hardest hit by fires early Tuesday afternoon, with more than 150 active fires across the area, according to the fire agency. Residents in some areas have been encouraged to close doors and windows, local Quebec officials said.

Video and images showed some fires burning for miles, sending plumes of dark smoke rising into the sky.

In a news conference on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was in contact with local officials across Canada about the fires.

This is a scary time for many people, Mr. Trudeau said.

As of Monday, some 26,000 people across Canada have been evacuated from their homes because of the fires, Canada’s public safety minister Bill Blair said at the press conference.

The images we’ve seen so far this season are some of the gravest we’ve seen in Canada yet, Blair said.

Many Canadians who have had to evacuate in recent days have had just hours to pack before fleeing their homes, Trudeau said.

When people lose their homes, they don’t just lose a roof and their possessions, Mr. Trudeau said. They lose a special place where they have seen their children grow up, where they have built a life. This is incredibly difficult and excruciating.

Smoke bands from the wildfires drifted south across the border on Tuesday, creating hazy skies and prompting the U.S. National Weather Service to issue air quality advisories for parts of the upper Great Lakes and Northeast.

Large swathes of Minnesota were placed on an air quality alert throughout Tuesday evening, the weather service said, as light winds drove smoke from Quebec wildfires across Minnesota. Smoke also moved into the state from Lake Superior.

Weather officials have warned that people most sensitive to poor air quality, such as people with lung and heart disease, children and the elderly, should limit certain outdoor activities.

Air quality alerts were also active in New York City and several counties in upstate New York until midnight. New York Mayor Eric Adams said Chirping that New Yorkers with heart or respiratory problems should limit their time outside to absolute necessities. Similar notices have been issued for parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont.

Toronto and New York City briefly ranked among the top 10 major cities with the worst air quality on Tuesday, according to IQAir, a technology company that monitors air quality and pollution around the world. Historically, Toronto and New York City don’t rank in the top 3,000 cities with the worst air quality, according to IQAir.

Poor air quality is expected to continue through Wednesday for much of New York state and the New York City region, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Satellite images of North America on Tuesday showed light brown smoke flowing south from the fires. The smoke appeared to be particularly thick over portions of Quebec, Ontario and New York. Foggy conditions could also reach as far south as the Carolinas.

In addition to poor air quality, smoke from fires could create a vivid, reddish sunset-like thing New Yorkers saw last month as smoke from the Canadian wildfires drifted south.

John Cristantello, a meteorologist with the New York Weather Service, said such sunsets and poor air quality could persist this summer if wildfires continue to burn in Canada.

Mr Blair, the public safety minister, said hundreds of troops were deployed across Canada to help with firefighting efforts. Other government agencies were standing by whether the fires damaged critical infrastructure, Blair said.

Mr. Trudeau said on Monday that forecasts indicate this could be a particularly bad bushfire season throughout the summer.

To date, more than 2,200 fires had already occurred in Canada this year, according to the country’s fire agency.


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