Allies around the world have promised to increase their help to Canada in its fight against hundreds of blazes that have swept through the country in its worst-ever start to wildfire season.
Forest fires that have gathered strength over the last month have forced tens of thousands of people from their homes and sent a smoky haze billowing over a large swath of the US.
About 4.3 million hectares (10.6 million acres) have already burnt, roughly 15 times the annual average of the past decade. Warm, dry conditions are expected to persist in the months ahead.
The fires have impacted mining operations in Canada and disrupted flights in the US. On Thursday the Toronto District School Board, Canada’s largest, rescheduled or moved indoors all outside activities, including field trips and local school events.
Although wildfires are common in Canada, it is unusual for blazes to be burning simultaneously in the east and west, stretching firefighting resources, forcing the government to send in the military to help, and fuelling concerns about the worsening consequences of climate change.
The US has sent hundreds of firefighters to Canada over the past few weeks and has said more help is on its way. President Joe Biden, in a statement on Thursday, said he has directed his administration to respond promptly to requests for additional firefighters and fire suppression assets.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who thanked Biden for US help in a call on Wednesday, has blamed climate change for the unprecedented early season wildfires. Trudeau and Biden discussed the need to “work together to address the devastating impacts of climate change,” according to a statement from the prime minister’s office.