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Amid Canadian wildfires, experts warn state of emergency could continue into fall

Minnesota could be dealing with poor air quality for months to come
Minnesota could be dealing with poor air quality for months to come 02:02

MINNEAPOLIS -- Thursday and Friday's air quality alerts in Minneapolis are number 16 and 17 - that means more than two weeks this summer the wildfires have been affecting our quality of life. 

Across the state of Minnesota, we're at more than 40 alerts, which is a record. 

Canadian authorities are warning while we could be dealing with this smoke, they could be dealing with more states of emergency until October.

Every province and territory in Canada is affected, but the most immediate threat to people's lives is in the northwest territories, where nearly 30,000 people were urged to leave their homes.

"It is extreme. We have over 200 fires burning currently across the territory," wildfire officer Jessica Davey said.

RELATED: Protecting yourself and loved ones from wildfire pollution

The smoke clouds now in the Twin Cities are the same ones from the city of Yellowknife - that's a distance of more than 2,00 miles - the same distance from Minneapolis to Mexico City.

According to officials, firefighters are working overtime to keep the fire away from the territory's lone major highway.

Canada Wildfires
Vehicles line-up for fuel at Fort Providence, Northwest Territories on the only road south from Yellowknife, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023.  Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP

"We need grocery trucks. We need fuel. We need that kind of stuff to keep coming so that we can keep fighting these fires," Davey said

Nearly 6,000 fires have now burned since May across all of Canada, scorching a combined area that's bigger than Wisconsin.

There's some good news out east, though, with more rain and humidity and Quebec and Ontario. Out west, it's still way too hot and dry.

"Moisture is really the story here that we're waiting for," said Quinn Barber with Natural Resources Canada.

In Yellowknife, residents first wait for the next flight out. They don't know how long the wait will be before they can come home.

SUMMER OF SMOKE: WCCO visits Canada's hub of operations as nation battles 5,000 wildfires

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