Wildfires in Canada are forcing evacuations and triggering air quality warnings in Minnesota

FORT McMURRAY, Canada The combination of warm temperatures and prolonged drought has helped fuel several fires in western Canada, forcing thousands to flee their homes.

One of the largest fires in the province of British Columbia is called the Parker Lake Wildfire. As of Sunday, the fire had burned more than 6,100 acres, and firefighters said the fire continued to exhibit extreme behavior due to dry brush and wind.

Local authorities asked the entire city of Fort Nelson to evacuate and use as few vehicles as possible to conserve fuel in the region about 400 miles east of Juneau, Alaska.

Wildfires were also reported in neighboring Alberta, where there was thick smoke and poor air quality across much of the province. An evacuation warning was issued for Fort McMurray, Alberta, as crews responded to what they called an “out-of-control wildfire” southwest of the city that had burned more than 13,500 acres as of Sunday.

“Conditions in many parts of BC and particularly the Prince George Fire Center (PGFC) are unseasonably dry and more typical of late summer conditions. Therefore, fuels are more susceptible to ignition and wildfires can spread more quickly,” said the British Columbia Wildfire Service.


In addition, authorities were monitoring fires that had flared up since the historic 2023 firestorm that burned more than 45 million hectares.

The latest North America Drought Monitor showed that almost half of the country is officially in drought, with the driest regions in the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia.

An El Niño regime caused significant snow deficits across much of the country, potentially setting regions up for another record-breaking wildfire season.

“We know from the forecasts that it’s likely to be a very bad wildfire season in western and northern Canada due to a dry winter and some of the challenges we’re facing,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a visit to British Columbia last week.


Will smoke affect the US?

Although prevailing winds will send smoke toward the Lower 48 at times, computer forecast models show that particles this round will not remain as stable as last year, likely because the season is still in its infancy.

In 2023, hundreds of fires in Canada contributed to some U.S. cities experiencing the worst air pollution on record, producing an orange haze in dangerous conditions.

Some Major League Baseball games were postponed and local health officials urged residents to wear face masks if they ventured outdoors.

If any impacts are felt in the next few weeks, the FOX Forecast Center says they will likely be limited to the U.S.-Canada border region and not extend far south.

Air quality warnings were issued for all of Minnesota Sunday through Monday morning as smoke from the Alberta fires moved into parts of the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest.

An error occurred while retrieving the tweet. It may have been deleted.

Air quality index monitors from Montana to the Dakotas and Minnesota reached the “unhealthy” range on Sunday. However, “very unhealthy” and even “hazardous” air levels have been reported in northwestern Alberta.

Wildfire season in Canada typically begins in May and lasts until September, but most fires are reported in June and July.