“Extreme.” “Unprecedented.” “Historic.” Those are just a few of the words being used to describe the start of this year’s fire season in North America. The wildfires are centered in the northwest of the continent, but their consequences are far-reaching. Thick smoke has blanketed parts of Wisconsin and North Dakota.

It’s triggered air alerts in Minnesota and Montana and muddied skies as far south as Tennessee and Colorado. In Canada thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes because of air quality and actual flames, as the country deals with an unusually devastating start to its fire season.Thousands of wildfires have been burning in the conifers and spruce of Canada’s boreal forests — some big, some small, most in rural, hard-to-reach places. FULL REPORT