Why are Canadian wildfires burning and sending smoke across the United States?

Why are Canadian wildfires burning and sending smoke across the United States?

With hundreds of Canadian wildfires spewing smoke across the northern United States, many Americans wonder how long the poor air quality will last and whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government can do more to extinguish the flames.

While Canada has a policy of letting fires in some remote areas burn out on their own, the government also passed this year's record-breaking fire season, which has so far burned more than 32,000 square miles.

Canada also faces other restrictions and challenges - some of its own making. Here is a summary:

The fires are incredibly widespread and constantly renewed.

As of Monday, there are 584 active fires in Canada, including three that started today, up from 501 last Thursday, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center. Of these, 285 are considered "out of control," 195 are "under control," and 104 are "held."

As fires are put out, new fires continue. The country has seen 3,255 fires so far this year, burning an area about the size of South Carolina - already making this the worst fire season in Canadian history - and summer is just beginning.

Some fires are difficult to access, and resources are limited.

With a landmass second only to Russia but a population of only one-ninth that of the United States, Canada needs more workforce, money, and equipment to tackle this summer's wildfires effectively.

"The wildfires burning in remote areas — like some currently burning in northwestern Quebec — are often out of control, and nothing can be done about them," CNN reported Saturday.

"With so many fires across the country, resources are scarce," Dustan Mueller, the deputy chief of the US Fire Service who was in Canada to help with the firefighting effort, told the Guardian.

"If you have limited resources, and you have a lot of fires, what you do is protect life and property first," Robert Gray, a Canadian wildland fire ecologist, told CNN. "You protect people, infrastructure, and watersheds, so there is a system for prioritization."

Weather and climate change are two factors.

The BBC reported in June that "scientists say climate change is making atmospheric conditions such as heat and drought that lead to wildfires more likely." "Spring in Canada has been much warmer and drier than usual, creating a dry environment for these vast fires."

"Given how much energy these fires have while they are burning, it is pretty much impossible for them to stop unless there is heavy rain," Apostolos Voulgarakis, a professor of climate change at Imperial College London, told Newsweek.

Unfortunately, the outlook for the rest of the summer in Canada is "mostly hot and dry weather," Canadian fire scientist Mike Flanigan told the Associated Press last Thursday. "It's been a crazy year, and I'm unsure where it will end."

No federal coordination

Each Canadian province is responsible for fighting wildfires within its borders, so, for example, the neighboring areas of Quebec and Ontario need to coordinate their responses to fires that may extend as far as their borders.

"It was a problem because we don't have a strong federal government, and it left us in this mess right now," Gray told ABC News.

The good news

Canada gets a little help from its friends. The Guardian reported last Thursday that "firefighters from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Mexican, Chilean and Costa Rican have joined the fight in Canada." "But Canadian policies, which are determined by each province individually, require some changes in strategy."

American firefighters were surprised to find this in Canada.

He is expected to stop after a 12-hour shift, and the protection of timber on private land is not considered a priority north of the border due to limited resources.

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