(NEWSnet/AP) – State officials issued Air Quality Alerts for all of Minnesota and part of Wisconsin from Sunday afternoon into Monday morning as wildfire smoke spread into the region.

The smoke came from Canada, where thousands of people were ordered to evacuate ahead of the first major wildfires of the season for that country. A total of more than 440,000 acres was burning.

One of the fires started Friday in British Columbia, and almost doubled in size by Saturday reaching the Fort Nelson area.

The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality and Fort Nelson First Nation issued a joint statement warning people choosing to stay that “emergency medical services are not available, nor are groceries or other amenities.” Health authorities said Fort Nelson General Hospital has been safely evacuated and closed until further notice.

Additional evacuation orders were issued in Alberta after a wildfire was reported about 15 miles southwest of Fort McMurray. The high winds pushed smoke across Alberta on Saturday, putting the city of Edmonton under an air quality advisory with hazard levels rated at 10-plus — or “very high risk” — forecast.

Canada’s 2023 wildfire season was particularly busy, with record air pollution reports amid orange haze in both Canada and the U.S.

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