CBC reporter: More than 100 forest fires still burning in Canada

Saskatchewan fires
Forest fires throw flames above the tree line along Highway 969 in southern Saskatchewan on June 29.
Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure via The Canadian Press via AP

There's no timeline to contain the forest fires still burning in Canada, causing dangerous air conditions in Minnesota, said Adrian Cheung, a reporter for CBC News.

Cheung has been covering the fires in Saskatchewan and spoke to MPR News' Tom Weber Tuesday.

Roughly 13,000 people in the province have been evacuated in this unprecedented event, some being bused more than five hours from their homes, Cheung said.

Forest fires are common in Canada, but since January, Saskatchewan has seen 10 times more wildfires than typically occur in an entire year, he said.

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Rescue crews are "desperately trying to save as many communities as they can, primarily big infrastructure like transmitters for telecommunications," Cheung said. "There are over 100 fires and well over 20 of those are uncontained, which means they can spread really easily."

The smoke from the fires caused Minnesota to see some of the lowest levels of air quality ever measured, said Frank Kohlasch, manager of air assessment for the agency.

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Kohlasch said the very small particulates in the smoke can be especially dangerous to people with breathing or heart conditions, although otherwise healthy people can also be threatened by air quality levels like Monday's.

"They'll be breathed in, they'll get into the lungs, and some can even pass from the lungs into the bloodstream and then they can have effects on the heart," Kohlasch said. "These levels could bring on feelings of not feeling well or could exacerbate and could cause a pre-existing condition to get worse or to flare up."