President Biden offered additional resources to Canada during a phone call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday as historic wildfires rage through the country, pushing smoke into American states as far south as North Carolina.
The president has directed all available federal firefighting assets to be deployed in efforts to suppress the hundreds of fires impacting Canadian and American communities, according to a release from the White House.
As of Wednesday evening, the U.S. has sent more than 600 firefighters and support personnel across the border to assist with the response.
“The two leaders also discussed continued cooperation to prevent wildfires and address the health impacts that such fires have on our communities,” the White House said, adding that Biden and Trudeau remain in “close touch” for emerging needs.
Trudeau confirmed on Twitter Wednesday evening that hundreds of American firefighters “recently arrived” in Canada and more are on the way, adding that he is thankful for the “critical support.”
Both leaders took the opportunity to blame the fires on climate change, with Biden including in a tweet that Canada’s record wildfires are “intensifying because of the climate crisis.”
Trudeau echoed similar sentiments in a longer tweet, writing: “We’re seeing more and more of these fires because of climate change. These fires are affecting everyday routines, lives and livelihoods, and our air quality. We’ll keep working – here at home and with partners around the world – to tackle climate change and address its impacts.”
As of Thursday morning, there are 439 active wildfires in Canada, and 250 of those are considered out of control, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre. The same data reveals 116 of the 439 wildfires are under control and 73 are being held.
An interactive map from Natural Resources Canada showed parts of Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia face the greatest fire risk as of Wednesday.
Smoke from the fires in eastern Canada has drifted south into the United States, prompting unhealthy and hazardous air quality alerts from the mid-Atlantic through the northeast and parts of the Upper Great Lakes, according to AirNow.
As of midnight on Thursday, multiple areas in the northeastern region were facing “hazardous” air quality index levels of over 400, forcing warnings to “avoid all outdoor activity.”
Most of the cities experiencing the highest alert level were in the Pennsylvania – New Jersey region, with Philadelphia reaching 407 and Trenton reaching 416.
New York City was also experiencing a “hazardous” alert with an air quality index level of 301.
As the smoke is expected to continue impacting the U.S. for days to come, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued the following recommendations: wear a N95 respirator mask if the air seems smoky, limit time outdoors by only performing essential activities and reschedule outdoor work tasks.