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Poor air quality, evacuations in multiple provinces due to wildfires

Wildfire smoke continues to make air quality poor for many regions across the country, stretching from northern Alberta to the Atlantic.

In Alberta, the wildfire situation there has improved, prompting officials to announce that the provincial state of emergency will end.

But the latest weather advisories Monday from Environment Canada show some areas of northern Alberta, as well as northern B.C. and Northwest Territories, under special air quality statements.

"Wildfire smoke is causing poor air quality and reduced visibility at times," the statements say.

"Air quality and reduced visibility due to wildfire smoke can fluctuate over short distances and can vary considerably from hour to hour. Wildfire smoke can be harmful to everyone's health even at low concentrations. Continue to take actions to protect your health and reduce exposure to smoke."

As of Saturday, wildfires had already burned more than one million hectares in Alberta, making this year's fire season unlike any seen in decades.

Residents in the area of Fort Chipewyan, including a number of First Nations, remained under a mandatory evacuation order on Sunday.

The joint provincial-federal Air Quality Health Index is forecasting a high risk tonight of potential health problems due to air pollution in Fort Chipewyan.

According to the World Air Quality Index, the air quality in Meander River in northwest Alberta is listed as worse than the Bangladesh capital Dhaka, as of Monday.


Officials said Sunday that the wildfire in the Halifax area is 100 per cent contained.

As many as 16,000 people fled their homes because of the fire, with about 200 structures, including 151 homes, damaged or destroyed.

The Air Quality Health Index value for the city is forecast to be low for the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, much-needed rain over the weekend has helped control a record-breaking wildfire in Nova Scotia's Shelburne County, located in the province's southwest.

A fire in the county at Barrington Lake is now the largest in the province's history, covering more than 24,000 hectares as of Sunday night.

Special air quality statements are in effect for the surrounding areas due to the Barrington Lake fire.


Along with multiple statements advising residents about poor air quality due to forest fires, Environment Canada has issued smog warnings in parts of Quebec, including the Greater Montreal area.

"High concentrations of fine particulate matter from forest fires in Quebec will result in poor air quality in many areas today," the warnings say.

Thousands of Quebec residents have relocated, with the number of forest fires rising to 156 as of Sunday.

The Air Quality Health Index value for Montreal is listed as high for Monday but is expected to drop heading into Tuesday. Residents in Gatineau are also at moderate risk of health problems due to the air pollution.

The air quality in Obedjiwan, a First Nation in south-central Quebec, is on par or worse than certain areas of Delhi, India, according to the World Air Quality Index.


Across southwestern, eastern and northern Ontario, Environment Canada has issued air quality statements due to the forest fires out of Quebec, as well as other local fires.

The poor air quality is expected to last Monday and potentially into Tuesday for some areas.

Officials on Sunday asked those living around Centennial Lake, more than 150 kilometres west of Ottawa, to evacuate their homes due to a nearby forest fire covering about 50 hectares.

According to the Air Quality Health Index, a majority of areas are at a moderate to high risk, depending on how close they are to wildfire smoke.

The World Air Quality Index shows that air pollution in Peterborough, Ont., northeast of Toronto, is worse than Beijing.

With files from Digital Producer Brittany Ekelund, Video Journalist Hafsa Arif, Writer Alex MacIsaac, Digital Reporter Daniel J. Rowe, CTV News Ottawa Digital Multi-Skilled Journalist Josh Pringle and The Canadian Press Top Stories

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