By Jared Abazia
Canada is experiencing its worst wildfires in history, with thousands forced to evacuate and the national government deploying the military to several provinces. While the country experiences a wildfire season every summer, this year’s blazes have been especially devastating. The area of forest destroyed this summer has been over ten times as much as last summer, and double the previous record in 1995. This is more than the entire state of Georgia.
The effects of these fires can be felt from coast to coast. During late May and early June, eastern provinces like Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia were hit particularly hard by large and at times uncontrollable blazes. Wildfire smoke traveling south from eastern Canadian provinces brought a marked spell of haze, fumes and copper skies to the northeastern United States, triggering air quality alerts impacting Americans. The air quality in New York City and the District of Columbia were among the worst major cities in the world, with empty streets amid an apocalyptic atmosphere.
Over two-thirds of all active fires now are in British Columbia, a western province situated between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains. British Columbia declared a state of emergency on August 18, as fires in the southern part of the province quickly became out of control. Hundreds of homes and structures have been destroyed or damaged, with tens of thousands evacuating away to safety. Cooler conditions have brought some relief, although smoke still eerily lingers.