Canadian wildfire smoke prompts air quality warnings in the northwestern U.S. : NPR

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A smoky haze shrouds tall buildings in downtown Denver on Saturday, May 20.

David Zalubowski/AP

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David Zalubowski/AP

A smoky haze shrouds tall buildings in downtown Denver on Saturday, May 20.

David Zalubowski/AP

Residents across parts of the US Northwest are under air quality warnings this weekend after smoke from a flurry of Canadian wildfires burned south along the border.

Thick smoke from fires in the Canadian province of Alberta spread to several states including Montana, Colorado, Idaho and Utah.

But a cold Pacific front moving into the area toward the weekend was expected to bring rain and wind that could push the smoke.

Officials in Montana said Sunday that almost the whole state was being affected from wildfire smoke and an air quality alert was issued for more than three dozen counties. Some areas were experiencing “very unhealthy” air quality levels.

The National Weather Service station in Glasgow, also deemed the air quality “very unhealthy” and urged people to limit their time outside, close their windows and refrain from burning any debris.

Stretches of eastern Colorado were also affected, with the metro areas of Denver and Colorado Springs watching unhealthy air quality levels in points on Sunday.

An air quality health advisory for wildfire smoke was in effect until at least 4 pm local time.

“If the smoke is thick or becomes thick in your neighborhood you may want to stay indoors,” the advisory warned. “This is especially true for those with heart disease, respiratory disease, the very young, and the elderly.”

Conditions were expected to improve but some health impacts for residents, particularly those at higher risk, were still possible by Sunday afternoon, Colorado officials added.

Utah and Idaho also started to see smoke from the wildfire on Friday and warned vulnerable residents to be careful.

Canadian fire officials issued a special air quality statement was issued for much of Alberta and said wildfires this year alone have burned more than two million acres, according to the CBC.

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