On Tuesday, the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center reported that over 400 fires broke out across Canada, with 27 new fires reported and 200 out of control. These wildfires have impacted the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions for more than a week. Due to these fires, air quality levels plummeted in New York City, with CNN reporting the morning air quality as the worst in the world. By the afternoon, air pollution levels in the city were among the five worst in the world.
As of Monday, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair stated that 26,000 individuals across Canada had fled their homes due to the wildfires. During a press conference on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau referred to this situation as a national crisis, acknowledging the magnitude of loss that these fires could bring to families. “When people lose their homes, it’s not just roofs and property that they lose,” Trudeau said. “They lose a special place where they watched their children grow up and built their lives.”
The air quality situation is expected to remain at “unhealthy” levels through Friday. According to Boris Kuennegen, an atmospheric scientist at the Plume Institute, Tuesday’s air quality in New York City was the worst the city has endured since 2019. The Prediction Service rated asthma conditions as “very high” and expects the situation to worsen on Wednesday. The source of the smoke is wildfires in Quebec, where there are now more than 160 wildfires. NASA reported that lightning strikes caused fires in some areas.
This situation has led to air quality warnings being issued for 17 states and cities, including Baltimore, Boston, Minneapolis, Raleigh, and St. Louis. It is clear that the wildfires in Canada have not only caused harm to the environment but also pose a significant risk to public health and safety.