Smoke causes cancellations of events for 2nd day in a row

Smoke from wildfires burning in Canada continues to wreak havoc across the East Coast, forcing numerous events to be canceled or postponed. 

President Joe Biden was scheduled to host a Pride celebration at the White House on Thursday and announce new protections for the LGBTQ+ community, but the event was postponed until Saturday, when air quality is expected to be better in the area.

That wasn’t the only event in Washington to be postponed Thursday. The Washington Nationals said their afternoon game against the Arizona Diamondbacks is being rescheduled. It will now take place on June 22. 

The Capital Pride Alliance confirmed on Thursday that its Pride events in Washington, D.C. would continue as scheduled with multiple outdoor events planned through the weekend. 

In a statement, a spokesperson said, “Currently, all things are pointing to things getting better through tomorrow.”

Event organizers said they would closely monitor the situation, but forecasters expected the air quality to improve along the East coast overnight on Thursday into Friday morning. 

Officials at Washington, D.C.’s National Zoo closed the facility to guests on Thursday over safety concerns with animals, staff and guests. Officials said they should know by Thursday evening if they plan to reopen on Friday. 

Washington, D.C.’s city government said its Metro system is considered open air, and could experience similar air quality issues as outside — however, its trains and buses are equipped with advanced ventilation systems that filter around 98% of air pollutants. The city planned to keep public transportation open despite the air quality warnings. 

For the second day in a row, New Yorkers couldn’t escape the smoke. The poor equality led to the cancellation of horse races at Belmont Park. 

“Safety is paramount as we navigate this unprecedented situation,” said David O’Rourke, president and CEO of the New York Racing Association. 

Track officials are hoping the smoke clears out by Saturday as forecast, because that’s when the third leg of the Triple Crown is scheduled to be raced.

Thousands of people typically travel to New York for the Belmont Stakes. However, air travel continues to be disrupted along the East Coast. Airports in New York and New Jersey have reported low visibility, causing numerous delays. 

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said that the smoke is expected to clear out within the next day, but officials are still preparing for the unexpected. 

“Even if the air clears tomorrow, we’ll be prepared for the winds to shift and smoke to return,” she said. 

There are reportedly 425 active wildfires in Canada, which have burned an estimated 10 million acres. 

The Biden administration said on Thursday that the U.S. has deployed more than 600 firefighters to support Canadian firefighting efforts.