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Haze from Canadian wildfires spreads to U.S. causing vivid sunsets

WATCH ABOVE: Troops and firefighters working together to battle Saskatchewan wildfires

SPOKANE, Wash. – Large wildfires raging across Canada have contributed to a smoky haze lingering above the Western U.S., blazes fueled by the familiar hot, dry conditions that have turned much of the region into a tinderbox.

The smoke has caused spectacular red sunsets in places including Seattle and prompted air quality warnings in many states.

FIERY CANADA

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Blazes are burning in parts of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

In Saskatchewan, more than 10,000 people have been forced from their homes, and the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, which co-ordinates firefighting services for the provinces and territories, said more help from the U.S. and abroad could be necessary.

READ MORE: Increased wildfire behaviour expected in Saskatchewan due to weather

Alberta said Wednesday it was bringing in 62 firefighters from Mexico to help battle 92 wildfires burning in the province, including 33 listed as out of control.

British Columbia, with more than 180 fires, was bringing in crews from Australia.

SMOKE SOUTH OF THE BORDER

The wildfire burning in High Level, July 8, 2015. Courtesy: Alberta Wildfire
The wildfire burning in High Level, July 8, 2015. Courtesy: Alberta Wildfire
The wildfire burning in High Level, July 8, 2015. Courtesy: Alberta Wildfire
The wildfire burning in Tall Cree, Alberta, July 8, 2015. Courtesy: Alberta Wildfire
Large wildfires raging across Canada have contributed to a smoky haze lingering above the Western U.S., blazes fueled by the familiar hot, dry conditions that have turned much of the region into a tinderbox. Courtesy: Alberta Wildfire
A wildfire blazes beyond a tree line in the La Ronge, Sask., area in this July 5, 2015 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO/Sask. Ministry of Environment, Corey Hardcastle
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Saskatchewan wildfires in pictures as taken by Corey Hardcastle with the Sask. Ministry of Environment. Corey Hardcastle / Sask. Ministry of Environment
Saskatchewan wildfires in pictures as taken by Corey Hardcastle with the Sask. Ministry of Environment. Corey Hardcastle / Sask. Ministry of Environment
Saskatchewan wildfires in pictures as taken by Corey Hardcastle with the Sask. Ministry of Environment. Corey Hardcastle / Sask. Ministry of Environment
Out-of-control wildfire burns near North Tallcree First Nation Saturday, July 4, 2015. Courtesy, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
Out-of-control wildfire burns near North Tallcree First Nation Saturday, July 4, 2015. Courtesy, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
A wildfire burns 36 kilometres northeast of Peerless Lake. Courtesy, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
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Saskatoon Fire Department send firefighters and equipment up north as wildfires encroach on Saskatchewan community. Saskatchewan Ministry of Government Relations / Supplied
A wildfire burns in the Slave Lake area Tuesday, June 30, 2015. Courtesy, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
Government of Saskatchewan orders La Ronge, Air Ronge, Lac La Ronge Indian Band evacuated due to wildfires. Supplied / Sask. Ministry of Environment
Saskatchewan wildfires in pictures as taken by Corey Hardcastle with the Sask. Ministry of Environment. Supplied / Sask. Ministry of Environment
Wildfires burning across Alberta. Courtesy: Facebook/Alberta Wildfire Info

Haze that lingered over parts of eastern Colorado for three days was rapidly dissipating Thursday.

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The smoky conditions had prompted a health warning for the Denver area Wednesday and combined with clouds to cast unusually gloomy skies that blocked mountain views.

The tiny particles of wildfire debris in the air pose a health risk for people with lung disease, older adults and children and anyone who exerts themselves outdoors, said Christopher Dann of Colorado’s air pollution control division.

READ MORE: Premier Christy Clark likens B.C. wildfire fight to game of chess

He said Colorado – which remains free of large wildfires after a wet spring – could be again dealing with smoke from the Canadian fires over the coming days and weeks depending on weather and the progress of firefighters.

Joanne Todd of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency said smoke from wildfires in British Columbia has crossed into Washington state, but is sitting high in the atmosphere and has little impact on the health of residents. “It’s not affecting us at ground level,” Todd said.

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She said, however, that could change in the future.

Air quality advisories have also been issued in North and South Dakota.

Canadians, obviously, have been affected as well. Environment Canada continued to issue special air quality advisories for parts of British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and northwest Ontario due to wildfire smoke.

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HOT AND DRY

Islandview Beach on Vancouver Island. Christian Rasmussen Photography
The top of Mt. Tolmie in Victoria. Angela Brunwald
The haze in Esquimalt. Meg Richfield
A view of the haze in Vancouver. VPD Marine Unit
The haze in Sechelt. Kary Movers Ltd.
The view from Courtenay. Kira Gebauer
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The view from English Bay. Anika Victoria Friesen
The view from the Langdale ferry terminal near Gibsons. Michelle Lessy
The haze in Squamish. Quinn Schneider
The view from Yaletown Sunday morning. @
Residents across Metro Vancouver and other parts of B.C. woke to the sight of a strange haze in the sky Sunday morning. Chester Ptasinski
The haze in Duncan, B.C.
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Residents across Metro Vancouver and other parts of B.C. woke to the sight of a strange haze in the sky Sunday morning. Casey Mielnichuk ‏
There was a strange haze in the sky in Vancouver on July 5, 2015. @hshsuhshsu
There was a strange haze in the sky in Vancouver on July 5, 2015.
Smoke creates an eerie red haze over a Manitoba field on Thursday. Gage Fletcher / Global News
Smoke creates a yellow, hazy effect at Candle Lake, Saskatchewan. More than 100 fires are raging in the province. Newzulu. All rights reserved

Western Canada has seen very hot, dry and windy conditions.

Kerry Anderson, a research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service, said the weather pattern known as El Nino, which is caused by the warming of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of South America, is responsible.

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READ MORE: Fires raging across B.C. as concern for the summer deepens

He expects weather conditions will settle down in Saskatchewan in the coming weeks, but warmer than normal temperatures will likely persist for a while in B.C. and Alberta.

Anderson said even if crews bring the Saskatchewan fires under control, they may not actually be put out until the fall.

Similar conditions across the American West have helped fuel for large, destructive blazes, including one in Wenatchee, Washington, that began in late June that destroyed nearly 30 homes.

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