Smoke from fires raging on the American west coast traveled almost 4,200 km with the wind and reached the other end of the continent, incl. to Rochester, New York.
From the fires of the states of California, Oregon and Washington, fumes spread to parts of the Midwest of the United States. They also reached Canada.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, smoke has moved east in two large bands. One encompassed the northwestern US states through Michigan, the Great Lakes region, all the way to Rochester. The second ran across the southwest, Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky to the Mid-Atlantic.
As reported by CNN, a smokescreen of low and medium density also hung over the east to Toronto and Ottawa, Canada, as well as north of Vancouver and northeast to Calgary. Instead, smoke spared a narrow strip in the middle, including parts of Nevada, Utah and Colorado.
According to the AirNow database, run by government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoke did not affect air quality in most of the eastern United States and even the central United States. In the area from North Dakota to New York, air quality is still considered “good”. However, it still poses a danger in parts of California, Oregon and Washington State.
The National Interagency Fire Center, responsible for the coordination of firefighting resources in the United States, announced that there are now 87 major fires in 10 states, and the most severe ones are in California, Oregon and Washington state.
In California alone, over 1.21 million hectares were burned. In the West, fires consumed a total of 1.86 million hectares, destroying the environment, including air quality.
Since August, 26 people have died in fires on the US West Coast. Among them is a 12-month-old child and a teenager from Oregon who hugged his dog in a car that was engulfed in flames until the last moments of his life.
Authorities fear that the fire death toll may increase. Due to the rapid spread of fire, evacuations were often chaotic. However, hundreds of thousands of residents managed to evacuate, some in the middle of the night.
Security services urge not to spread rumors on social media and to follow the authorities’ announcements. Some of those at risk did not comply with the evacuation orders and stayed in their homes.
Based on the opinions of climatologists, CNN warns that much larger disasters are lurking on the horizon. As the world temperature rises, the number of catastrophic fires will increase even more.
“Hot and dry conditions conducive to forest fires are already becoming the norm, and people must undermine the actions that accelerated climate change,” CNN said, citing the researchers.