A wildfire burns near Edson. More than 100 active fires were spread across the province as of Saturday morning. Photo provided by Alberta Wildfire.
21 May 2023

Smoke from Western Canada 2023 wildfires affecting visibility in US states as far south as New York



Wildfire smoke from Canada was impacting states in the northern tier of the U.S. during the second week of May.

The National Weather Service in cities across the country tweeted to warn residents of impacts, including in Seattle, Pittsburgh, the Twin Cities, Bismarck, Topeka, Pendleton, Boulder, Billings, Chicago, Little Rock and several other cities.

In Boise, Idaho, the office said Thursday that "hazy skies" were to be expected.

"Wildfire smoke from Canada will start making its way into eastern Oregon and Southwest Idaho within the next several days," it warned. The Pocatello office said Idahoans should not be surprised to smell the smoke at times.

In Des Moines, Iowa, the agency warned about smoky weather conditions leading to "reduced visibilities," lingering into Friday morning. 

In Duluth, Minnesota, sinking air with rain caused the smoke there to reach the surface and an Air Quality Alert was in effect for much of the northeastern region of the state.

More than 90 fires were burning  in Canada's Alberta province,  and the Albany, New York, office said there could be some smoke aloft, and the National Weather Service in Boston said to "say goodby to those beautiful blue skies." 


Members of Canadian Armed Forces are on the ground in Alberta helping with firefighting efforts. (3 Canadian Division Headquarters)
Members of Canadian Armed Forces are on the ground in Alberta helping with firefighting efforts. (3 Canadian Division Headquarters)



The number of Albertans forced to evacuate their homes wildfires has risen overnight with three new evacuation orders declared in the past 24 hours, fire officials said Sunday afternoon. 

According to the CBC, more than 19,000 residents have now been ordered to escape the paths of multiple wildfires across central and northern Alberta. That is an increase from an estimated 16,520 people Saturday but down from last week's peak number of about 30,000 evacuated residents. 

There are 87 active wildfires in the Canadian province of Alberta currently. 24 fires are classified as "out of control". That does not include the eight wildfires burning outside those zones. 

Strong heat and powerful winds have made the firefighting conditions difficult so far, officials say. 


In this photo provided by the Government of Alberta, Canada, the Eagle Wildfire burns, Saturday, May 13, 2023. (Government of Alberta Fire Service
In this photo provided by the Government of Alberta, Canada, the Eagle Wildfire burns, Saturday, May 13, 2023. (Government of Alberta Fire Service



Fire risk conditions are "extreme", although still early in the year - starting to rival 2019

"Our peak burning period, which is when the temperatures are at their highest and the fuels are at their driest is still in front of us. We are using all of the resources at our disposal to fight these wildfires and keep people in communities safe, " Josee St-Onge, wildfire information officer at the province, said at a briefing on Sunday. 


Chart showing how much forested land has burned in 2023 compared to the entire wildfire season of 2019 in Alberta.

This graph from the Alberta government shows that what has already burned in Alberta so far this year is about 75 % of what burned in the entire fire season of 2019, which was a very bad year for Alberta.  


Updated May 9

No snow in winter, no rain in spring: Alberta asks military for help with western Canada wildfires


The province of Alberta has requested military assistance from Canada's federal government as it battles "unprecedented" wildfires, the BBC reports.


Photo Credit: A wildfire burns near Edson. More than 100 active fires were spread across the province as of Saturday morning. Photo provided by Alberta Wildfire.


On Monday, May 8, 94 wildfires were burning across Alberta, including 27 that were considered "out of control".

More than 29,000 people have been asked to evacuate their homes, and the province declared a state of emergency over the weekend due to the situation.

Some residents in Alberta's neighbouring provinces, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, have also been evacuated as the provinces battle wildfires of their own.

According to the CBC, the Alberta government now offers emergency payments to residents who have been asked to evacuate from the wildfires for more than 7 days.

Each adult who is eligible can receive $1,250 CAD (€ 852) and $500 CAD  for each dependent child under 18, the Alberta premiere Danielle Smith said during an update on the wildfire situation during Monday afternoon.

"This means that an evacuated family of four will receive $3,500 to help get through these dark days and to meet their immediate needs," she said.


1700 firefighters will be fighting the fires - Most of Canada is sending help

Alberta has 700 wildland firefighters working to handle the situation at the moment. Premiere Smith said the province is expecting up to 1,000 more firefighters to arrive next week from Yukon, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. 

The province has already welcomed  firefighters from across the country, including crews from Ontario and Quebec. 

Manitoba also said Monday it would send firefighters and equipment including two water bombers, which will be based in Lac La Biche, about 170 kilometres northeast of the regional capital of Edmonton. 

Also, reportedly the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton, has 300 soldiers trained in firefighting. The light infantry unit has also put out a call for reservists to join the firefighting efforts.


Updated May 9

Wildfire season has started early in the northern parts of the North American continent. The Canadian province of Alberta is dealing with out-of-control wildfires.

Updated May 8

The Alberta provincial government has declared a provincial state of emergency as out-of-control wildfires force more residents from their homes, according to an article on CBC.ca.

Premier Danielle Smith made the announcement at a media briefing Saturday afternoon. She described the current wildfire situation in Alberta as an "unprecedented crisis."

Nearly 30,000 residents in Alberta have been forced to evacuate from their homes as wildfires continue to rage in north and central Alberta. About 5000 have been evacuated on Sunday or Monday, May 8.

More than 100 wildfires continue to burn in Alberta and thousands of residents are still displaced. As thousands of evacuees flee their homes, truck drivers on the road are also stuck, cut off between closed roads and highways. 

Several highways west of Edmonton are closed because of the fires, including a part of  the very important Highway 16. Multiple fires in the area are making it difficult to get around the closures on other roads, which are also affected.


In Northern British Columbia, firefighting teams are sent across the border to Alberta to help out the situation there, despite having several wildfires of their own to deal with in the province. 

As of Sunday afternoon, four fires that are particularly visible or pose a danger to the public,  are burning,  in the Prince George area in northern B.C.

Two of those — the Boundary Lake fire and Red Creek fire — are burning out of control near Fort St. John, and evacuation orders remain in place for the community of Goodlow and Red Creek.

An evacuation alert was also issued Saturday for the entire Doig River First Nation community in the Peace Country Region.


In the neighbouring prairie province of Saskatchewan,  wildfires were continuing to prompt evacuations from First Nation communities as late as Saturday May 6th, according to the CBC.ca.

The Saulteaux First Nation, located about 43 kilometres north of North Battleford, began evacuating areas close to a wildfire on Thursday night.

On Thursday, North Battleford's Fire Chief Lindsay Holm advised against driving into the community, as the Battleford Agency Tribal Chiefs (BATC) are working to evacuate the community and traffic is hindering efforts to fight the fire and move people to safety.

The BATC posted on Facebook that the wildfire on Saulteaux First Nation was contained at 4 a.m. CST on Friday and no homes were lost.


Photo Credit: A wildfire about one kilometre north from the Saulteux First Nation's community hall. (Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs/ Facebook)