Precipitation likely won’t be enough to extinguish Quebec fires causing US smoke, officials say

MONTREAL (AP) The rains likely won’t be enough to extinguish the wildfires ravaging northern Quebec, but the wet weather could give firefighters a chance to get ahead of the flames, officials said Tuesday, as Canada passed the record for the area burned by fires this week.

Drifting smoke from wildfires across Canada is creating curtains of haze and raising air quality concerns throughout the Great Lakes region and parts of the central and eastern United States.

Meanwhile, NASA reports that smoke from the fires in northern Quebec has reached Europe. The US space agency said satellite images on Monday showed smoke extending across the North Atlantic Ocean to the Iberian Peninsula, France and other parts of western Europe.

People watch the sunset as smoke from wildfires wafts through Toronto on Wednesday, June 28, 2023. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)

Canadian officials say heavy rains in Quebec in recent days have missed the places where the fires are most active and expect air quality to remain a concern throughout the summer, as long as the fires continue.

A person walks along the shore of Lake Michigan as the downtown skyline is blanketed in the haze of the Canadian wildfires on Tuesday, June 27, 2023 in Chicago.  (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

Smokey air from wildfires in Canada is enveloping large swathes of the United States, from Minnesota to New York and Kentucky.

A person walks along the shore of Lake Michigan as the downtown skyline is blanketed in the haze of the Canadian wildfires on Tuesday, June 27, 2023 in Chicago.  (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

Drifting smoke from wildfires across Canada is creating curtains of haze and raising air quality concerns across the Great Lakes region and parts of the central and eastern United States.

Smoke from the Canadian wildfires leaves a haze on the downtown Minneapolis skyline on Tuesday, June 27, 2023.  Drift smoke from wildfires across Canada is creating curtains of haze and raising air quality concerns across the Great Lakes region and parts of the central and eastern United States.  (AP Photo/Steve Karnowski)

Smoke from wildfires emanating from Canada prompted officials to issue a record 23 air quality warnings for much of Minnesota late Wednesday night as smoky skies darken Minneapolis and St.

Air quality in Europe has not deteriorated to the extent seen in Canada and the United States, however, due to the height of the smoke in the atmosphere, NASA explained.

In Quebec, where nearly a quarter of wildfires are burning in Canada, the provincial forest fire prevention agency SOPFEU is assessing the effects of recent rains, Katia Petit, Quebec’s deputy associate minister for civil protection, told reporters.

If it rains enough, it will allow SOPFEU staff to step up their work directly in the field, work on the fires and prevent them from flaring up again once the weather returns, Petit said.

Environment Canada meteorologist Simon Legault said he expects the rain to stop falling by Wednesday morning in the regions hardest hit by the bushfires. He said warm, sunny weather could return later with the possibility of isolated showers over the weekend.

More rain could come in the first week of July, but nothing like the organized system of downpours sweeping the province this week, Legault predicted.

Earlier this month, huge wildfires burning tracts of Canadian forests blanketed the northeastern United States and the Great Lakes region, turning the air a yellowish gray and prompting people to stay indoors..

Despite the rain, the province’s fire control task remains colossal, said Julie Coupal, SOPFEU Deputy Director. The agency counted more than 100 fires across the province on Tuesday, including 77 in the southern half, where more than two dozen fires were considered out of control.

The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center said on Monday that 76,129 square kilometers (29,393 sq mi) of forest and other land had burned across Canada since Jan. 1. This surpasses the previous record set in 1989 of 75,596 square kilometers (29,187 sq mi), according to the National Forest Database.

There are currently 490 wildfires burning nationwide, of which 255 are considered out of control.

The ongoing evacuation orders had displaced some 4,400 people in Quebec as of Tuesday morning.


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