President Joe Biden pledged additional help for Canada as wildfires fume, especially in Quebec, causing unhealthy air quality levels throughout much of the Eastern U.S.
In a readout of a call between President Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the president “directed his team to deploy all available Federal firefighting assets that can rapidly assist in suppressing fires impacting Canadian and American communities.”
The White House said 600 firefighters and support personnel have been sent to Canada.
Vedant Patel, spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, said the over 600 personnel came from the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the Interior. He said this is in addition to several states sending help to Canada.
“The U.S. is supporting Canada as it faces extreme wildfires, which based on our assessments is on track to be one of the largest natural disasters in Canadian history,” Patel said.
Trudeau on Wednesday declared the 2023 wildfires the “worst we’ve ever seen.”
“We need to continue to make sure we are doing everything possible to keep Canadians safe when these extreme weather events hit. But also make sure we’re doing everything we can to predict, protect and act ahead of more of these events coming,” Trudeau said, suggesting Canada has seen a rise in recent natural disasters.
According to Quebec officials, there were 137 active wildfires in the province as of Thursday morning. To date, there have been 443 fires in Quebec, which is more than double the 10-year average at this time of year.
The effect of Canadian wildfires has been impactful on both sides of the border.
The air quality in much of the Eastern U.S. is considered “unhealthy” as of Thursday morning. In some areas, particularly around New York and Philadelphia, the air quality has been considered “hazardous.” The poor air quality caused several major sporting events to be postponed Wednesday, and some Broadway shows were canceled.
The Environmental Protection Agency forecasts that air quality in Philadelphia and New York will gradually improve through Friday. Meanwhile, forecasters said the air quality will deteriorate in parts of the Southern U.S.