A view from the top of the Rockefeller Center, as haze and smoke caused by wildfires in Canada hang over the Manhattan skyline, in New York City, New York, June 7, 2023.
Andrew Kelly | Reuters
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Thursday assured Americans the government was aiding Canada in fighting the wildfires that have cloaked the East Coast and Midwest in unhealthy levels of smoke and haze.
“Since May, more than 600 U.S. firefighters, support personnel, and firefighting assets have been deployed, working alongside Canadian firefighters to tackle what is likely to be the worst fire season in Canadian history, and one that has huge impacts here in the United States,” Biden said in a statement.
The president spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday and offered additional assistance to beat back the fires, particularly in Quebec, where 150 fires are burning. The president said he directed the National Interagency Fire Center to help as well.
In a statement, Trudeau thanked Biden for the aid, adding that the countries must “work together to address the devastating impacts of climate change.”
There were 437 active wildfires across Canada early Thursday, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center. Nearly 250 were labeled as out of control.
As of Wednesday, roughly 9.4 million acres have burned and more than 20,000 people have been evacuated, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said during a briefing with Trudeau. Canadian officials anticipate the higher-than-normal wildfire activity to persist due to drought conditions and high temperatures.
Americans on the East Coast are being advised to mask up amid air quality alerts that are expected to stay in effect through Friday. Hundreds of flights have been delayed and several Major League Baseball games were postponed due to the haze.
Biden addressed the wildfires from the White House, speaking before a press conference.
“It’s very important that affected communities listen to the guidance of their state and local officials from this point forward,” Biden said. He urged Americans to go to airnow.gov for information on air quality in their area.