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    Foreign Assistance Sought by Canada in Battle against Widespread Wildfires

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    Canada is calling for help from foreign countries to tackle the wildfires that have spread across the western half of the country. The fires have devastated Alberta province and have recently spread to British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories. Over 2,500 firefighters and 400 military personnel have been deployed across Alberta to try to control the fires, which have already burned over half a million hectares of forests and grasslands and destroyed many homes and businesses. However, more help is needed. The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center has reached out to the United States, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand for assistance.

    Smoke from the wildfires has covered western Canada, leading to warnings about poor air quality and health risks. The sky in Calgary had an orange hue as the smoke grew thicker throughout the day, and residents of Regina and Saskatoon in Saskatchewan province woke up to a thick haze and strong smell of smoke. Almost 180 wildfires are burning across the region, with 48 out of control, forcing tens of thousands to flee over the past two weeks.

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    Evacuation orders and alerts have been lifted in some parts, including hard-hit Drayton Valley and Fort St. John, as those fires were subdued. However, air quality indexes in several cities still indicate a “very high risk” to health due to wildfire smoke that spread from the Pacific Coast to Manitoba province.

    Western Canada has experienced extreme weather in recent years due to global warming, including floods, mudslides, forest fires that destroyed an entire town, and record-high summer temperatures that killed over 500 people in 2021. This spring’s mostly hot, dry weather has resulted in what Alberta leader Danielle Smith described as an “unprecedented” crisis.

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    As evacuees trickle back to Drayton Valley, local fire Chief Tom Thomson urged caution, warning people to remain vigilant as there are still extremely hazardous areas with concerns about falling trees and ash pits.

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