Live updates | Canada Wildfires
Jun 8, 2023, 7:36 AM | Updated: 2:44 pm
Follow along for live updates on wildfires in Canada creating a haze in parts of the U.S. and Canada and into northern Europe:
What to know:
— Air pollution cloaks eastern U.S. for a second day. Here’s why there is so much smoke
— MLB, WNBA postpone games due to smoke from Canadian wildfires
— AP PHOTOS: From NYC’s skyline to Washington DC’s monuments, wildfire haze envelopes familiar sites
— How to stay healthy as smoke spreads from Canada wildfires
— How safe is the air? Here’s how to check and what the numbers mean
— Smoke from wildfires, a fact of life in the West, catches outdoor workers off guard in the East
BIDEN BLAMES CLIMATE CHANGE, OFFERS HELP TO CANADA
President Joe Biden has called the smoke from Canadian wildfires in the eastern U.S. “another stark reminder of the impacts of climate change” and said cabinet officials are monitoring the impact on travel and air quality.
More than 600 firefighters and other personnel from the U.S. have been deployed to Canada to respond to the wildfires there, Biden said in a statement Thursday, adding that he offered additional help to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Jeffrey Rupert, director of the Office of Wildland Fire for the Interior Department, told a Senate hearing that the U.S. and Canada have long shared firefighting resources, and that Canada has supported the U.S. “during really difficult times.″
The U.S. Forest Service has more than 200 people on the ground in Canada, said John Winn, an agency spokesman. An additional 170 personnel from other agencies are also deployed, he said. Since the start of the crisis, 648 wildland fire personnel have mobilized, he said, but around half have finished their assignments and returned home.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, of New York, urged Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to “double the number” of Forest Service personnel deployed to fight the fires in Canada.
MORE THAN 12,000 CANADIANS REMAIN DISPLACED
It remains unclear when more than 12,000 Canadians displaced by encroaching flames will be able to return home, Quebec Public Security Minister François Bonnardel says.
There have been no reports of injuries or deaths, or damage to homes from the wildfires burning across the province, Bonnardel said Thursday. But no rain is expected until next week and temperatures are expected to rise.
“Some fires are under control, some not,” Bonnardel said. “We’ve evacuated 12,600 people all over Quebec, principally in the north of Quebec. We’re looking at these fires every hour, we’re hoping to tell Quebecers they will be able to go back home, but in the short term, it won’t be possible.”
More than 639,000 hectares (2,467 square miles) have burned in the province, representing the worst fire season in Quebec on record.
WHITE HOUSE PRIDE EVENT POSTPONED
President Joe Biden postponed a Pride Month celebration with thousands of guests on the White House lawn because of poor air quality in Washington, D.C., from the wildfires in Canada. The event scheduled for Thursday night will be held Saturday instead. It’s intended to be a high-profile show of support for LGBTQ+ people at a time when the community feels under attack and the White House has little recourse to beat back state-level legislation against them.
Washington Pride Parade on Saturday remains scheduled, although organizers said they are monitoring conditions and consulting with city officials.
NY HEALTH DEPARTMENT SEES SPIKE IN ASTHMA-RELATED HOSPITAL VISITS
New York City is seeing an “higher than usual” number of asthma-related visits to the emergency room, according to a Pedro Frisneda, a spokesperson for the city’s Health Department. He declined to provide exact figures, but said asthma-related visits were in the “low hundreds.”
In neighboring Connecticut, officials in Bridgeport activated the city’s cooling centers protocol, normally used only on the hottest days, so residents could escape the unhealthy air at designated library branches and senior centers.
Philadelphia suspended garbage pickups and street maintenance work to protect workers from the dirty air.
AIR QUALITY STATEMENT ISSUED FOR TORONTO BUT DROPPED IN OTTAWA
Smoke from wildfires in Ontario and Quebec are moving over Toronto, bringing hazy skies and poor air quality to Canada’s most populous city and leading Environment and Climate Change Canada to issue a special air quality statement for the city.
Schools in Toronto and the nearby York Region moved recess and other outdoor events indoors. The City of Toronto says it is adjusting programming in response to the air quality, with some city-run outdoor recreation programs being cancelled or moved indoors while outdoor activities at city-run daycares have been suspended.
Environment Canada dropped its special air quality statements for the capital of Ottawa, but residents are still encouraged to limit outdoor activities. Air quality statements remain in effect in parts of six provinces.
EASTERN SMOKE REVERBERATES ON WEST COAST
Wildfire smoke has increasingly choked the U.S. West Coast in recent years, blanketing regions in ash, blotting out the sun so much that the temperature dropped, and coloring Seattle, Portland and San Francisco in an apocalyptic white-orange hue. Since 2017, California has seen eight of its 10 largest wildfires and six of the most destructive.
Savannah D’Evelyn, a postdoctoral student in the University of Washington’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, called the smoke blanketing the northeastern U.S. a wake-up call.
“The East Coast does not normally experience smoke events like this, and one of the main reasons that they are is climate change,” D’Evelyn said. “Smoke is going much farther because our wildfires are much more intense, much more severe. Wildfire season is starting a lot earlier and lasting a lot longer than it used to.”
FAA BRIEFLY STOPS SOME FLIGHTS TO NYC, PHILADELPHIA
The Federal Aviation Administration briefly stopped some flights from heading to New York’s LaGuardia Airport and Philadelphia International Airport, and slowed traffic there and at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, across the Hudson River from Manhattan.
The FAA planned to accept more planes per hour as Thursday wore on. That kind of metering often occurs during bad weather.
Aviation navigation systems don’t work as well in smoke as they do during rain, so smoke increases the need for planes to slow down and be spaced farther apart, according to the FAA.
POOR AIR QUALITY CANCELS RACES, GAMES
Poor air quality from wildfires in Canada has led to the cancellation of racing at Belmont Park and the Washington Nationals home game against Arizona.
Thursday is the second straight day the continuing fires north of the border have impacted sports in the Northeastern United States.
Several Major League Baseball games were called off Wednesday. A National Women’s Soccer League game in New Jersey and an indoor WNBA game set for Brooklyn were also called off, as was a scheduled practice for the NFL’s New York Giants.
POOR AIR QUALITY CLOSES ZOOS
Poor air quality has forced zoos in several U.S. cities to close or reduce their hours.
At the National Zoo, a popular tourist attraction in Washington, D.C., officials said Thursday that they are taking the action “for the safety of our animals, our staff and our guests.” The city’s Department of Energy and Environment has said the air quality forecast is in the purple, or very unhealthy, range.
All four of New York City’s zoos will be closed for the day so the animals can stay indoors. The Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the city’s zoos, said no animals were showing adverse effects.
The Toronto Zoo shortened its hours Thursday for the safety of the animals and its guests.
DEMOCRATIC LAWMAKERS URGE PRESIDENT TO DECLARE A CLIMATE EMERGENCY
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Bernie Sanders and other Democratic lawmakers are urging President Joe Biden to declare a national climate emergency that would unleash federal resources to mitigate the worst impacts of climate-fueled disasters.
Blumenauer, of Oregon, said the haze from the wildfires in Canada is a “stark reminder that the climate crisis is here. We ought to treat it like the emergency it is.”
SPAIN, PORTUGAL, FRANCE SEND FIREFIGHTERS TO CANADA
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says Spain, Portugal and France are sending hundreds of firefighters to Canada.
With smoke reaching Europe, the fires are drawing attention from analysts as far afield as Spain, which has wildfires each summer and expects more this year due to a prolonged drought and record-hot spring.
Spain said Thursday that it would send 80 to 100 firefighters to Canada. Neighboring Portugal, which has a record of deadly fires as well, has pledged another 100 firefighters.
Wildfire analyst Jordi Pagès for the Barcelona-based Pau Costa Foundation, a global non-profit organization dedicated to wildfire awareness, said climate change is fostering weather conditions that favor wildfires at increasingly higher latitudes.
“In the last 10 years we have seen an increase on a global scale of the number of massive fires erupting simultaneously,” Pagès told The Associated Press by videoconference from his office in rural northeast Spain. “There is a fire campaign active in Canada right now, but also in Russia, with important fires in both areas.”
SMOKE FROM CANADIAN WILDFIRES FORECAST TO REACH NORWAY
Norwegian officials said the smoke from wildfires in Canada that has enveloped parts of the U.S. and Canada in a thick haze is expected to pour into Norway on Thursday.
Atmosphere and climate scientists with the Norwegian Climate and Environmental Research Institute used a forecast model to predict how the smoke would travel through the atmosphere.
The smoke has moved over Greenland and Iceland since June 1st, and observations in southern Norway have recorded increasing concentrations of aerosolized particles, the independent research institution said.