The government of the Northwest Territories in Canada issued an emergency evacuation of the capital city Yellowknife and surrounding areas as more than 200 wildfires continue to blaze in the region.

According to the notice, immediate evacuation was recommended to residents “living along the Ingraham Trail, in Dettah, Kam Lake, Grace Lake and Engle Business District,” and “Other residents have until noon on Friday, Aug. 18, 2023, to evacuate.”

The Associated Press said for residents who aren’t able to leave by road, they can register for a flight out, and people “who are immunocompromised or have a condition that puts them at higher risk” were encouraged to sign up.

In a social media post, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “To the people of the Northwest Territories: We’re here for you. We’ve mobilized Canadian Armed Forces members, and we’ll continue to provide whatever resources are needed. I spoke about that with Premier Caroline Cochrane today — and reaffirmed our commitment to assisting however we can.”

The New York Times said the fire was about 10 miles outside of Yellowknife and officials said it’s expected to reach the city by the weekend.

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Air quality

CNN said the Minnesota Pollution Control published an alert about air quality for Thursday and Friday because of the smoke coming in from Canada.

“Heavy ground-level smoke from wildfires in the Northwest Territories of Canada is moving south across central Canada and toward Minnesota on Wednesday,” and a cold front will sweep the smoke across the state on Thursday, the National Weather Service said.

The Times said that this year Canada has had its worst fire season in history and “the fires have burned an area nine times as large as last year’s entire fire season. At times, smoke has traveled as far south as Georgia and as far east as Europe.”

Nadia Byrne, a resident of the Yellowknife area, told CNN the evacuation was “the most terrifying experience she’s had,” and that “there were patches of flames on each side as we drove through.”

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According to CNN, Cochrane said, “If you are able to evacuate by road, obey all warning signs, emergency management officials, traffic control devices and posted speed limits.”

In a news conference, Shane Thompson, a government minister for the Territories, said, “I want to be clear that the city (Yellowknife) is not in immediate danger and there’s a safe window for residents to leave the city by road and by air,” per The Associated Press.

Evacuation flights will begin on Thursday, according to the Times.