Montreal, Canada was engulfed in smog on Sunday, as forest fires in the country caused the city to have the worst air quality among major cities worldwide. IQAir, a pollution monitor, reported that the air quality in Quebec province’s most populous city was classified as “unhealthy”. The smog resulted from hundreds of wildfires raging across Canada, prompting Environment Canada to issue smog warnings in multiple regions. The adverse conditions are expected to persist until Monday morning. Residents were advised to avoid outdoor activities and wear face masks if they must go outside. As a result, outdoor pools, sports areas, and various events have been canceled in response to the unhealthy smog.
Eighteen-year-old Fauve Lepage Vallee described the smog as a “fog” caused by the forest fires, making it difficult to breathe and causing eye irritation. She expressed disappointment over the cancellation of a festival she had planned to attend. According to Quebec’s forest fire protection agency, SOPFEU, there are currently 80 active forest fires in Quebec. Dry weather and high temperatures have contributed to the fires’ growth over the weekend. SOPFEU noted that the smoke’s extent has hindered the effectiveness of air tankers and helicopters combating the fires. Fortunately, significant rainfall is expected in the northwest of the province on Monday or Tuesday.
In a collaborative effort to fight the fires, 119 French firefighters are scheduled to arrive in Quebec on Wednesday. They will join their compatriots in the field, providing relief after a month-long deployment. Additionally, they will be deployed to Roberval, a city located 250 kilometers north of Quebec City, for a 21-day mission, as stated by SOPFEU spokesperson Stephane Caron. Across Canada, there are more than 450 active fires listed by the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC), with approximately 240 of them being classified as “out of control”. This year has been particularly severe for wildfires in Canada, with over 7.4 million hectares burned since the beginning of January.
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Shambhu Kumar is a science communicator, making complex scientific topics accessible to all. His articles explore breakthroughs in various scientific disciplines, from space exploration to cutting-edge research.