As wildfires in Canada blanket regions in smoke, here's how you can help those impacted

Canadian officials have sought international support as firefighters battle hundreds of wildfires that have displaced more than 20,000 people and blanketed the East Coast of the United States in a thick haze of smoke.

There are 428 wildfires burning across Canada and more than half are considered out of control, according to the most recent data from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center. Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair told reporters Wednesday an estimated 20,183 people were evacuated from their homes and communities.

Blair said nearly 9.4 million acres have been burned. And while there has been improvement in parts of Alberta, Nova Scotia and Quebec and people have been able to return to their homes, "many are still displaced and as fires continue to disrupt their communities."

A firefighter directs water on a grass fire on an acreage behind a residential property in Kamloops, British Columbia, Monday, June 5, 2023. No structures were damaged but firefighters had to deal with extremely windy conditions while putting out the blaze.

What we know:Air quality alerts remain in place in US Friday due to Canada wildfires

President Joe Biden said in a written statement Thursday he spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about sending more U.S. firefighters to Canada to join the 600 already on the ground there, which include "hot shots and jumper crews." Hundreds more firefighters from South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as France, Portugal and Spain, are expected to arrive to help battle the blazes, The Globe and Mail and Reuters reported.

Federal and provincial governments have pledged to match donations to at least two major nonprofits to support disaster relief efforts in areas including Nova Scotia, Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Blair said these appeals have raised more than $26 million in Alberta, $6 million in Nova Scotia and nearly $300,000 in the Northwest Territories.

Here's how you can help those affected by the Canadian wildfires:

Canadian Red Cross

The Canadian Red Cross is accepting donations to assist those most impacted "with immediate and ongoing relief, recovery and resilience efforts in response to the wildfires, as well as supporting community preparedness and risk reduction for future all-hazard disaster events within Atlantic Canada." The government of Canada and the government of Nova Scotia committed to a donation matching initiative, meaning every $1 donated will become $3 to support those most affected by wildfires. The Canadian government and the government of Alberta announced a similar donation matching program.

United Way

The government of Canada and the government of the Northwest Territories have also launched a donation-matching initiative for funds donated to the United Way of the Northwest Territories to support nonprofit community groups helping residents impacted by the wildfires, including those forced to evacuate. A wildfire recovery concert will be held Friday at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax and all funds raised will go to the United Way Halifax Wildfire Recovery Appeal, according to the event's website.

Contributing: Terry Collins, USA TODAY

Experts:Smoke and haze stunned the East Coast this week. Get used to it

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