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Towering pyrocumulus clouds seen from satellite imagery on May 26, 2019. Image: Pierre Markuse/Flickr.

It's only the end of May, yet already about 1 million acres of forest have gone up in flames across Alberta, Canada.

Why it matters: The wildfires have caused a sharp deterioration in air quality across western Canada and large swaths of the U.S. The fires are occurring earlier in the season than is typical for this region, and they're a possible sign of a warming planet, in which conditions conducive for such fires are becoming more frequent.

The latest:

  • According to Alberta's wildfire firefighting agency, wildfire danger remains high across the province, which is also the case in parts of neighboring British Columbia.
  • More than 2,000 personnel are battling the blazes.
  • The smoke from these fires turned the skies an eerie orange from Edmonton to North Dakota on Thursday and Friday, with smoke seen via satellite imagery wafting all the way toward the Canadian Arctic, where it can enhance the melting of sea and land ice.

Thousands have been forced to evacuate to avoid the blazes, according to Canadian media reports.

The backdrop: High latitude forests have seen increased wildfires in recent decades, particularly in parts of Canada, Alaska and Russia, though forest management practices and human settlement patterns also play a role. In the case of boreal forest fires in Alaska, recent activity is unprecedented in the context of the past 10,000 years.

  • A robust finding of climate studies is that wildfires are likely to become larger and more intense in parts of the world, such as the American West, as the average temperature warms and snowmelt timing shifts to earlier in the year.

1 ironic thing: The fires forced Alberta Premier Jason Kenney to cancel a public event at a gas station to mark the repeal of Alberta's carbon tax, meant to rein in greenhouse gas emissions.

Kenney, who was elected in mid-April, has made reversing climate change measures a priority of his administration. Alberta is the center of Canada's sizable oil and gas production.

“This is an opportunity to remove this huge dead-weight cost that punishes hard-working people for living ordinary lives in this province," Kenney said Thursday.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Go deeper

Rep. Rice demands Cuomo resign after third woman accuses him of misconduct

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a February news conference in New York City. Photo: Seth Wenig/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) on Monday evening called for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to resign, after a third woman accused him of inappropriate behavior.

Driving the news: Anna Ruch told the New York Times Monday that Cuomo asked to kiss her at a New York City wedding reception in September 2019.

Scoop: Inside the GOP's plan to retake the House

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Republicans will reclaim their majority in 2022 by offering candidates who are women, minorities or veterans, a memo obtained by Axios says.

Why it matters: The document, drafted by a super PAC blessed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, names top Democrats to target — Jared Golden of Maine, Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania and Ron Kind of Wisconsin — and the type of Republican candidates to beat them.

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Scoop: Trump talked out of early Ohio endorsement

Jane Timken at a 2017 Trump rally. Photo: Kyle Mazza/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Donald Trump had to be talked out of making an early endorsement in Ohio's 2022 U.S. Senate race, a sign of his eagerness to reengage politically, people familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

What we're hearing: The former president discussed endorsing former state GOP chair Jane Timken last week during a meeting at Mar-a-Lago with RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, but top advisers — including Donald Trump Jr. — urged him to wait.