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Wildfires Blaze across Canada

Throughout the last couple of months, raging wildfires have been pervading Canada. The wildfires started in the western provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, and have spread to the eastern regions of Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Ontario. There has been international support to quell the fires, as Canada is at a national preparedness level 5. While help continues to flee to the North, there are still 480 active fires across the country.  


There have been almost 2,300 fires in nine of Canada’s thirteen provinces and territories. More than 9 hectares have burned (22.2m acres), setting the record since 1889 when 7.8 hectares had burned. Warm and dry conditions, along with severe drought due to global warming, have increased the likelihood of fires in recent years. 


Not only are the fires larger than usual, but they have been a lot more frequent. This season there have been 20% more fires than the decade average. Many of the fires are caused by lightning, and the dry weather has led to an increase in lightning.  


The fires in Canada started in late April and grew more severe in early May, and this caused a government response on May 6.  3,800 firefighters have been called to duty, with aid from the Canadian armed forces. 


The intensity and rapid spread of the fires have called for international support. There have been almost 1,800 personnel from 11 countries that have arrived to help, with fire crews from South Korea. "We've deployed more than 600 U.S. firefighters, support personnel, and equipment to support Canada as they respond to record wildfires – events that are intensifying because of the climate crisis," Joe Biden said in a tweet. 


The fires have caused more than 150,000 people to evacuate their homes. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed, along with surrounding buildings and structures. 

The effects of the fires have been felt internationally. In early June, the air quality became so unhealthy in the United States that many people could not breathe, forcing many people to return to masks. Chicago and much of the upper Midwest felt the effects of the fires, as a smoky haze hung in the air. 

Dangerous smoke impacted the Northeast and parts of the Midwest for days, and Chicago finally endured the effects when authorities classified the air as unhealthy, along with other parts of Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, and Minnesota

Air quality is considered unhealthy at 150, and in Chicago, the Air Quality Index reached 209, the worst reading of any major city in the world for the day. In Green Bay, Wisconsin the index was 175, and in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it soared to 255. 

Despite the amount of help, support, and effort that have been poured into this disaster, the fires are not likely to go away anytime soon. Wildfire season is severe, and this may stretch into October. The smoke that pervaded the US is just a fragment of what Canadians are enduring. 

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