Fires Across the Nation

Wildfire raging west of Chibougamau, in Northern Quebec, in a June 4, 2023, handout photo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-SOPFEU, Audrey Marcoux, *MANDATORY CREDIT*)

Kara Brulotte • Posted: 12-06-2023 | Last Updated: 05-07-2023

If you live in Canada, it’s likely that you’ve heard of the recent wildfires. They’re popping up all over the country, with the Canadian Wildland Fire Information System (2023) showing highly affected areas as North West Territories, Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Ontario. Everyone is feeling the effects of these fires. So what exactly is happening?

Fire Danger Map, Canadian Wildland Fire Information System

A wildfire is an uncontrolled fire that burns through wilderness vegetation, most often in rural areas, but not exclusively. There’s many different causes of wildfires. Conditions are the largest factor in where wildfires occur, with windy, hot, dry weather leading to trees, leaves, shrubs, and other organic matter dry and ready to fuel the fire. These conditions are occurring more and more due to climate change, and wildfire seasons will presumably get worse and worse as time goes on , according to CNN (2023). However, the spark that causes the fire can be a variety of things, both natural and man made. Lightning is one of the most common natural starters of wildfires, while anything from a lit cigarette discarded to unattended campfires being human causes. 

Smoke billows upwards from a planned ignition by firefighters tackling the Donnie Creek Complex wildfire south of Fort Nelson, British Columbia, Canada, June 3, 2023. B.C. Wildfire Service/Handout via Reuters

Wildfires are insanely destructive, burning through the wilderness and nearby communities, with houses and other structures being in danger of complete destruction. When wildfires are unable to be contained, they can also block roads, disrupt power and water, and burn crops. There are also the more indirect effects, such as air pollution caused by wildfire spark and the risk it poses, especially to the young, the sick, and the elderly. The health risks are both long term and short term, ranging from eye and respiratory irritation to exacerbation of asthma, bronchitis, and even heart failure. Finally, there is the direct risk the fires pose to people, with people dying of injuries sustained in the fires. 

Wildfires are burning across the country, with areas such as British Colombia, Alberta, Quebec and Ontario being hotspots for the fires over the last couple of weeks. However, there are many areas affected secondhand by wildfire smoke, with smoke from Quebec and Ontario fires reaching all across the Eastern United Stated according the Guardian (2023), with smoke even reaching Norway, though heavily reduced in terms of danger, according to CNN (2023). These wildfires of some of the most severe many areas in Canada have ever seen, with 10 million acres having already been burnt, according to CNN (2023). More than 20,000 people have been displaced on top of the destroyed land, according to Al Jazeera (2023). 

A man talks on his phone as he looks through the haze at the George Washington Bridge from Englewood Cliffs, N.J., June 7, 2023.

Firefighters are attempting to keep the fires across the country under control, but due to the large area and impact of the fires, there is only so much help to go around. Wildfires burning near human settlements are being prioritized and France, Spain, Portugal, and the United States are sending firefighters to help the Canadian force currently there. In terms of fire prevention, Justin Trudeau has said that he and US President Joe Biden need to work together to discuss the impacts of climate change and the future of wildfires in both Canada and the United States, according to Reuters (2023).

A firefighter directs water on a grass fire burning on an acreage behind a residential property in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, on June 5, 2023. | Darryl Dyck/AP Photo

This increase in wildfires, burning in both the East and the West of Canada does not bode well for future Canadian wildfire seasons. Property is being destroyed, air quality is plummeting for hundreds of kilometers around wildfires hotspots, and the health of communities is being put at risk. In a future where wildfires are looking more and more common, Canada has to learn how to adapt and overcome this new challenge. 


Canada, N. R. (2023). Fire weather maps. Canadian Wildland Fire Information System.

Guardian News and Media. (2023, June 8). Air pollution in US from wildfire smoke is worst in recent recorded history. The Guardian.,smoky%20conditions%20started%20in%202006

Kestler-D’Amours, J. (2023, June 7). Canada’s record wildfires should be “wake-up call”, experts warn. Climate News | Al Jazeera.

Paddison, L. (2023, June 9). Smoke from Canada’s wildfires has reached as far as Norway. CNN.

Ramirez, R. (2023, June 10). Canada’s wildfire season is off to an “unprecedented” start. here’s what it could mean for the US. CNN.,in%20at%20least%20a%20decade.&text=Human%2Dcaused%20climate%20change%20has,wildfires%20to%20ignite%20and%20grow.

Shakil, I., & Williams, N. (2023, June 9). International help rolls in to fight persistent Canadian wildfires. Reuters. 

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