May 30, 2023 - Science

Wildfires in eastern and western Canada force thousands to evacuate

 Damage is seen on the property of Adam Norris in Drayton Valley, Alberta, Canada, on May 8.

A property that was damaged by a wildfire earlier this month in Alberta, Canada, where wildfires have been burning for weeks. Photo: Walter Tychnowicz/AFP via Getty Images

Fire evacuation orders are in effect across Canada as firefighters respond to dozens of wildfires in the country's east and west.

The big picture: Officials in the eastern Canadian city of Halifax said Monday evacuations had impacted some 18,000 people due to a wildfire that's burned some 200 properties in the Nova Scotia provincial capital, where a state of emergency was declared Sunday.

A screenshot of a tweet by Halifax Regional Municipality saying: "Preliminary estimates indicate that approximately 200 homes or structures have been damaged as a result of the fires."
Photo: Halifax Regional Municipality/Twitter
  • About 300 homes in the nearby province of New Brunswick were under evacuation orders due to a forest fire in the Saint Andrews area that ignited Sunday.
  • Evacuation orders were also in effect in the western provinces of Alberta and British Columbia — where wildfires have been burning for weeks, though officials said most were under control.

By the numbers: Almost 1,600 wildfires have burned across more than 5 million acres, according to the latest available data from the National Wildland Fire Situation Report.

Context: Studies show that climate change is leading to larger, more intense and frequent wildfires.

What we're watching: Canada's wildfires could once again hit U.S. air quality and pose a threat to people's health this week as the National Weather Service warns of "much above average temps expected along the northern tier of the nation."

  • Smoke from the Nova Scotia fires is forecast to reach Boston, Massachusetts, on Tuesday and northern New York and Vermont Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Environment and Climate Change Canada says there's a 70% to 90% chance that parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba will experience above-normal temperatures through May, June and July.

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