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Smoke from Canadian fires reaches Minnesota; pollution advisory for Arrowhead


A plume of smoke from Canadian wildfires has reached Minnesota, leading to an air pollution health advisory for the northeastern part of the state through Saturday night.

The advisory issued by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) covers the Arrowhead region, including the Iron Range and the North Shore. Hibbing, International Falls, Duluth, and Grand Marais are among the cities under the advisory, which continues through 10 p.m. Saturday.

The agency says smoke from Ontario had already reached International Falls by Friday evening and was expected to spread south and southeast overnight and Saturday. Visibility had dropped to a couple of miles.

What's a health advisory mean?

The MPCA says the pollution from particles in the air will be near a level that's unhealthy for sensitive groups. Those include:

  • people with cardiovascular or respiratory disease
  • elderly people
  • children
  • anyone involved in heavy exertion

Those groups in particular, but really everyone in the area, should put off any vigorous activity until after Saturday, the MPCA recommends.

Forecasters expect the winds carrying the smoke will die down Saturday night and Sunday morning, which should mean clearer skies in Minnesota.

This smoke is not from the biggest fire

Most of the news from Canada this week has focused on the wildfire burning in and around Fort McMurray, where 88,000 people were evacuated.

But while Fort McMurray is in Alberta, the smoke reaching Minnesota is coming from Ontario, the MPCA says.

Whiteshell Provincial Park runs along the Manitoba/Ontario border.

The Whiteshell fire is only a fraction of the size of the one burning at Fort McMurray. CTV News reports the Whiteshell blaze covered 700 hectares while Fort McMurray's fire covered more than 100,000. (Measured in acres those would be about 1,700 acres compared to 247,000 acres.)

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