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The Full Story

The Canadian Wildfires

On May 7, 2023, the first forest fire broke out in Shelbourne County.   This historic wildfire has continued to burn today, breaking all previous records. The situation has worsened with the deteriorating air quality with thousands already told to evacuate. 


Basic Info. 

The 2023 Canadian wildfires were instigated by warmer and drier weather conditions caused by climate change, increasing the risk of wildfires. A passing cold front and strong winds further intensified the situation. Forest management practices, specifically the focus on fire suppression and the accumulation of dry vegetation on the forest floor, played a role in the severity of the wildfires. Lightning strikes, occurring more frequently due to climate change, are another major cause of wildfires in Canada. Human-caused fires, often unintentional, also contribute to the wildfire incidents. The widespread impacts of these wildfires include worsening air quality and increased carbon emissions, breaking annual records for wildfire emissions.



- 137 fires active in Quebec

- 57 fires active in Ontario

- Over 20 million acres burned

- 100,000 residents displaced from their homes

- 135,000 residents have evacuated

- Smoke made solar farms drop production by 50%



Evacuation/Rescue Efforts

As a result of the current wildfires, 14,000 inhabitants of Quebec had to leave their houses as of June 4. The largest town in Northern Quebec, Chibougamau, suffered the evacuation of 7,500 residents on June 6. On June 7, the neighbouring Cree Nation of Mistissini was given the go-ahead to evacuate, while the Cree Nation of Waswanipi started their own voluntary evacuation. On June 6, the Public Security Ministry of Quebec issued a general evacuation alert in reaction to the deteriorating situation, requiring an emergency evacuation in communities like Chapais. The fires forced the evacuation of 2,100 people, or the whole population, as they moved to within 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of Lebel-sur-Quévillon. The mayor of the city voiced worry. More than 300 people from Val-Paradis, Beaucanton, and Lac Pajegasque had to leave on June 23, but they were allowed to return on June 25. On June 23, the Cree settlement of Mistissini, which had previously been evacuated once earlier in the month, issued a second warning. On June 26, the Atikamekw of Opitciwan were given permission to go back to their houses.

Ontario's and Toronto's Situation 

From June 5 to 7, the wildfires produced a lot of smoke, which had a negative influence on the air quality in Southern Ontario, Ottawa, and Toronto. The Air Quality Health Index revealed the greatest amount of air pollution ever seen in Ontario during this time. The negative effects of the smoke were also felt in Kingston and Belleville, where the air quality peaked. On June 25 and 26, Ottawa was overwhelmed by the return of the smoke, which forced the postponement of outdoor events and programs. Among the events that were impacted were the Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival and the Ottawa Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival, highlighting the importance of prioritizing public safety in the face of declining air quality. On June 28, Toronto had a similar circumstance when the city's air quality fell to one of the worst levels imaginable. Once more reaching its highest score, the Air Quality Health Index compelled officials to move a number of outdoor recreation programs to indoor venues. This preemptive step was taken to protect locals' health in the face of haze that wouldn't go away and bad air quality.

International Response

On June 6, Quebec's premier, François Legault, announced that the province will get support from 200 firemen from France and the United States and that talks to secure further resources with Chile, Portugal, and Costa Rica were ongoing. According to information released on June 7 by the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, 950 firemen and support staff have come from nations including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States to help. More than 280 firefighters from France, Spain, and Portugal would be sent, the European Commission declared on June 8. According to Governor Kathy Hochul, the state of New York promised to send seven firefighters over a two-week period in response to Canada's request. By the 14th of June, over 5,000 firefighters from different nations had arrived in Canada, and reinforcements from Chile and Costa Rica were anticipated. The coordination between nations during various fire seasons to secure the security of communities around the world was highlighted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who also underscored the reciprocal nature of international firefighting help.

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