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Western wildfires spreading smoke to Canada and New York

CBS News logo CBS News 7/22/2021 Caitlin O'Kane
a large body of water with a city in the background: The sun rises through a cover of wildfire smoke above the CN Tower and downtown skyline in Toronto © CARLOS OSORIO / REUTERS The sun rises through a cover of wildfire smoke above the CN Tower and downtown skyline in Toronto

Enormous wildfires are burning across several Western states, but winds are carrying the smoke much further. The National Weather Service shared satellite images Tuesday showing smoke drifting southeast across New York and the tri-state area.

The service said the smoke would filter the sunshine throughout the day — and some New Yorkers woke up to hazy skies and a bright orange sun.

This phenomenon has happened before, when smoke from wildfires in the West spread all the way to Washington, D.C. in September 2020, causing the sky to look hazy and orange.

In 2020, wildfires in Australia caused "unprecedented" conditions, NASA said. The space agency released satellite images that showed smoke from the fires moving around the globe. The smoke was expected to make at least one full circuit around the world, said Colin Seftor and Rob Gutro of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. 

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On Tuesday, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation issued a rare air quality alert for the state, reports James Gilbert, a meteorologist for CBS' Rochester affiliate WROC-TV.


Video: Western wildfires send smoke as far as New York (CBS News)

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Ozone levels at the surface are increasing due to wildfire smoke and those with heart or lung disease as well as older adults and some children should limit outdoor activities, Gilbert reports.

Earlier this week, smoke from the Bootleg Fire, considered one of the largest in modern Oregon history, also stretched hundreds of miles northeast to the Canadian border, the Agence France-Presse news service noted. 

Several people in Toronto posted photos of the hazy skies over the city on Twitter.

On Monday, the Bootleg Fire was burning more than 476 square miles, an area about the size of Los Angeles and three times the size of Detroit. 

Wildfires continue in 13 states, where 83 large fires have burned 1,293,636 acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Isolated dry thunderstorms were expected across eastern Oregon and Washington, Idaho, western Montana and northwest Wyoming on Tuesday, the agency said. Some of the storms will be capable of strong wind gusts and brief heavy rain – and lightning from these storms could make wildfires worse.

Meteorologists predicted critically dangerous fire weather through at least Monday, with lightning possible in both California and southern Oregon.

"Any thunderstorm has the potential to ignite new fire starts," the National Weather Service in Sacramento, California, tweeted.

a view of a city at sunset: Wildfires send smoke across U.S. and into Can... 00:56 © Provided by CBS News Wildfires send smoke across U.S. and into Can... 00:56
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