Minnesota sends firefighting help: ‘Canada’s worst wildfire season of the 21st century’
The smoke from Canadian wildfires eased up slightly across Minnesota on Thursday after Wednesday’s record-setting poor air quality levels.
The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) reports 445 active fires, with 217 burning out of control in the country as of Thursday afternoon.
“Canada’s at a national preparedness level of 5 — that means there’s significant wildfire activity,” said CIFFC’s Communications Manager, Jennifer Kamau. “This season is unprecedented, it started early and accelerated quickly.”
Earlier this week, Canada’s Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair
provided an update on the wildfires.
“This qualifies now as Canada’s worst wildfire season of the 21st century,” Blair said.
Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) sent four contracted Fire Boss Aircraft that can scoop up to 800 gallons of water per trip to help fire efforts in Ontario.
“The more we know about wildland fire smoke, the more we realize how hazardous it is to human health,” said Dr. Mike Flannigan, a professor of wildland fire at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia.
Some of the smoke observed in the Twin Cities comes from fires in Quebec in the east. Additionally, smoke from fires from the western provinces has also come into Minnesota, leading to air quality issues.
“This year has been really challenging because it has been spread out through a large geographical area, from sea to sea. That’s unusual to see that happening,” Flannigan said.
The dry and hot conditions have helped to fuel the large amount of wildfires.
Experts say some of the fires have been caused by man, while others are from weather events.
Each province, or territory in Canada, manages its own fire response.
“Everyone does it a little differently, they are moving away from the old school tradition, that all fire is bad and put it out,” said Flannigan. “Some of them are allowing mother nature to do her thing when and where possible, so this will mean more fire on the landscapes at times.”
Canada is also receiving more international firefighting help this wildfire season than in years past.
“We want to take the opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to the offers of support we’ve received from around the world,” said Emergency Preparedness Minister Blair.