WASHINGTON (TND) — Despite significantly better air quality reported Friday throughout much of the mid-Atlantic and northeastern United States, Canadian officials paint a grim picture of "higher-than-normal" fire activity the country is expecting through August.
In a series of interviews with The National Desk (TND), Canadian fire officials express their optimism that many blazes in eastern Quebec are coming under control. However, they are still fighting a historic outbreak throughout the country.
According to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, Inc. (CIFFC), out of the 2,401 Canadian fires that have occurred so far this year, there are 424 active forest fires burning in the country. Officials are worried this is only the beginning.
We [Quebec] usually see an average of 440 forest fires a year," CIFFC's Quebec spokesman Nicolas Vigneauld tells TND. "Since the beginning of 2023, our province has seen 445 registered fires."
According to a slideshow presentation obtained by TND, Natural Resource Canada briefed government agencies on the dire situation facing their country.
In part, the report reads that "if this rate continues, we could exceed the largest total ever recorded [of annual wildfire burn] in Canada".
The Canadian briefing document alerts government officials that approximately 3.3 million hectares -- the equivalent of 8.1 million acres -- have burned so far this year. This burn rate is a monumental increase compared to the reported Canadian burn average of approximately 627,000 acres.
According to public land records, the amount of Canadian land burned is slightly more than the entire size of the State of Maryland, which comes in at 7.9 million total acres.
TND asked CIFFC's spokesperson if they knew what caused much of Quebec to become ignited. According to Nicholas Vigneauld, the outbreak was the result of lightning strikes from violent thunderstorms that traversed the province on June 1.
Vigneauld stated those fires are the same that caused much of the hazardous smoke that Americans experienced throughout the week.
Between 12 and 24 hours, 123 fires were ignited by lightning," reports Vigneauld. "We usually can only fight 30 fires in our province at one time. Things have quickly gotten out of control."
Canadian fire officials warn TND more dangerous smoke traversing into the United States is likely to continue throughout the summer.
We have had to make choices, the right choices. We are doing everything we can to make sure people don't die," Nicolas Vigneauld conveyed. "We cannot fight all fires at the same time."
CIFFC told TND nearly 100 American firefighters are expected to join their efforts this weekend. The Americans will join another 100 French firefighters already in Quebec assisting with extinguishing efforts.