Smoke from Canadian wildfires shrouded New York in a record-breaking apocalyptic smog Wednesday as cities along the US East Coast issued air pollution warnings and thousands evacuated their homes in Canada.
The devastating fires have displaced more than 20,000 people and scorched about 3.8 million hec-tares of land in Canada, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described this wildfire season as the coun-try’s worst ever
More than 100m people across the northeastern United States — extending west to Chicago and south to Atlanta — were under pollution warnings after the smoke drifted hundreds of miles from Can-ada, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said.
The thick pollution cast an eerie, yellowish glow over the Big Apple’s famous skyscrapers, delayed flights and forced the postponement of sporting events.
“It smells like someone is doing a barbecue,” said Nicha Suaittiyanon, a 30-year-old tourist in New York City from Thailand, who complained of watery and itchy eyes.
Mayor Eric Adams told New Yorkers to limit outdoor activity to “the absolute necessities”, adding: “This is not the day to train for a marathon.”
All outdoor activities at New York City’s public schools were suspended, as the smog enveloped the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it had slowed traffic to and from the city’s airports due to reduced visibility.
US President Joe Biden said on Twitter that more than 600 firefighters along with other personnel and equipment had been sent to Canada to help battle the blazes.
More than 11,000 people have already been evacuated in Quebec, and another 4,000 were ex-pected to flee by the end of Wednesday, said the province’s Premier Francois Legault.
Biden spoke with Trudeau on Wednesday and offered “additional support to respond to the devas-tating and historic wildfires” according to the White House.
Trudeau said he had thanked Biden, tweeting: “These fires are affecting everyday routines, lives and livelihoods, and our air quality.—AFP