Canadian wildfires have put nearly 60 million U.S. residents under an air quality alert



CNN

Smoke from Canadian wildfires continues to batter the United States, prompting air quality warnings for 11 states in the Northern Plains, Midwest and Great Lakes region on Sunday.

Forecasters predict that nearly 60 million people from Montana to New York, including residents of Chicago, Detroit, New York, St. Louis, Cedar Rapids and Cleveland, will see reduced visibility and poor air quality.

A large swath of the Northern Plains, from Montana to Illinois, had an air quality index in the “unhealthy” range Sunday, a level 4 out of 6.

Photos taken at the NWS Central Illinois facility in Lincoln, Illinois, show clear skies Saturday and wildfire smoke Sunday.

“While the concentration of smoke in the atmosphere will begin to decrease by Monday, there is still enough smoke to support unhealthy air quality that will be unhealthy for sensitive groups in some parts of these regions early next week,” National said. Weather Forecast Center of the Weather Service.

New York state is under an air quality health advisory due to smoke from wildfires in western Canada. “Air quality index levels are expected to reach ‘unhealthy for all’ New Yorkers in upstate communities,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a news release.

The state is implementing emergency announcements on roads and making masks available for distribution, Hochul said.

Winds will continue to push smoke eastward, bringing smog to the northeast early in the week.

The plume was born from nearly 400 fires in Canada’s British Columbia province over the past week, nearly half of which were started by 51,000 lightning strikes in thunderstorms. The British Columbia Forest Fire Service said. Some of those thunderstorms produced “dry” or uneven amounts of rain to help put out the fires — a dangerous prospect in a province. Extreme drought conditions.

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On Sunday, Canadian authorities announced that a second firefighter had died battling the wildfire.

“We are saddened to share the sad news that a firefighter from Fort Liard passed away from injuries sustained while fighting a wildfire in the Fort Liard district on Saturday afternoon,” Canada’s Northwest Territories said. said in a statement.

On Thursday, authorities confirmed that a firefighter died in a fire near the town of Revelstoke in southeastern British Columbia.

“I am deeply saddened by the news from the Northwest Territories that another firefighter has lost his life fighting the wildfires” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted on Sunday. “To their families, their friends and those they bravely served alongside: Canadians keep you in our thoughts. We are here for you.

Wildfire smoke contains tiny pollutants called particulate matter, or PM 2.5, that can get into the lungs and bloodstream once inhaled. These pollutants commonly cause breathing difficulties and eye and throat irritation, but have been linked to serious long-term health problems such as lung cancer. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Parts of the U.S. could be at risk of future smoke depending on weather patterns and fire outbreaks, as Canada recorded its worst fire season ever. More than 24 million acres have burned so far this year, roughly the size of Indiana.

British Columbia has seen more than 1,000 fires since April. Those fires have already burned nearly three times as much land as the average year in British Columbia over the past 10 years, according to the province’s wildfire service.

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