Video: Canada: Ottawa's capital's skies painted orange due to wildfires (Reuters)
Unusual air pollution from Canadian wildfires has advanced along the Atlantic coast of the United States over the past 24 hours, turning Washington, D.C., into a ghost town. Many residents stayed indoors due to the toxic smog, when road traffic was sparser and trains were less crowded. In addition, some non-essential municipal services have been suspended, including in parks and resorts, road construction and waste collection.
In light of the severe haze, which also caused many flight disruptions, the Washington baseball team canceled its home game, while the National Zoo closed its doors. In addition, the Biden administration postponed the event it planned to hold at the White House in honor of Pride Month, which was supposed to be the largest ever hosted by an American president.
Experts said it was the worst case of fire smoke covering the skies of the Northeast in two decades, and the National Weather Service extended air pollution warnings from New England to South Carolina, including parts of the Midwest including Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. The dangerous smoke even reached Norway yesterday.
Many events have been cancelled. Smog over Washington, yesterday(Photo: Reuters)
In total, about 12 million people in North America experience air pollution to varying degrees, and millions have been advised to avoid being outdoors for fear that dangerous particles in the atmosphere will cause respiratory and other health problems. Data released by authorities showed pollution levels in Washington as of Thursday morning were above "dangerous," while New York, whose skies were painted orange this week to obscure its famous skyline, saw air pollution ease and skies began to clear.
Marvin Binnick, who moved from Nebraska to Washington a month ago, said watching the smoke spread to the capital from his <>th-floor apartment was surreal. "It's supposed to be a typical sunny day, but I can't see the sky or the sun or anything at all," said Binnik, who was sent home from his job in customer service. "Normally the city is lively—but on my way to work and on my way home today, it looked like a ghost town."
Many residents wore masks while on the streets as thick smoke blanketed the capital. The smog, which stank of ash, obscured the top of the Washington Monument from view.
"This problem is likely to continue or worsen through Friday," Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said. "We urge residents and visitors to take precautions."
Canada is beginning to receive international aid. A helicopter is about to land at a gathering point near a forest fire in Ontario on Wednesday (Photo: Reuters)
About 150 forest fires are still raging in Quebec, and as in the United States, Canadian authorities have advised those who cannot stay home to wear masks. Canada's current fire season is beyond average, and this summer may be the worst on record due to the expected dry and hot conditions.
The latest fires have already burned an area of more than 330,12 kilometres – 600 times more than the average for this time of year over the past decade. The White House said this week that more than <> firefighters had been sent to Canada to help local firefighters overcome the wildfires.
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