Canadian 'Zombie Fires' spread smoke over Wisconsin

The picture above was captured from our Estabrook Park tower camera on Wednesday morning, May 15 as the rising sun shone through a thin layer of wildfire smoke. It created a gorgeous sunrise. However, all that beauty comes at a steep cost.

The smoke is moving our way from western Canada. Last year, Canada had a record wildfire season with more than 6,000 fires. Almost 50 million acres were burned. Over the winter, those fires went into a sort of "hibernation," but they are back -- earning them the nickname of "Zombie Fires."

While the cold of the Canadian winter tames the fires, they continue to simmer and smolder underground. With the warmer and windier conditions of spring, they have come back to life with a large fire near the town of Fort Nelson in the western Canadian province of British Columbia, which has led to the evacuation of nearly 5,000 people. 

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Smoke from these fires is impacting many parts of the U.S. Areas farther north and west in Wisconsin are seeing much thicker smoke.

This picture was taken by our viewer, Julie K. in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, showing far thicker smoke,

Minnesota and Wisconsin are not alone, smoke made it all the way south to Kansas and Oklahoma on Tuesday. 

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So far, our area hasn't seen a significant reduction in air quality. You can check the latest conditions at 

This is all very reminiscent of the record wildfires that impacted us in spring and summer 2023. That resulted in many states seeing dangerously poor air quality. At times, the air was as bad as smoking a cigarette.