PEACE RIVER, Canada (KABC) -- Fifteen California firefighters with the state's Critical Incident Management team spent the past two weeks in Canada's Peace River, Alberta, where some 300,000 acres have burned.
"The fire was predominately carried by the wind," said Chris Fry, an assistant fire chief with the Angeles National Forest, who was among the group of firefighters that deployed. "So anytime the wind picked up much, kind of like our Santa Ana winds, the fire just took off."
In an interview with ABC7, Fry said the firefighters were called in to help manage and tackle multiple fires raging simultaneously.
It's a challenge the team was equipped to handle, given California's history. Since 2017, the state has seen eight of its 10 largest wildfires and six of its most destructive.
"They were stretched so thin, they were looking for us to provide a bit of reprieve," Fry said. "They had been going for weeks before we got there."
Meanwhile, images of smoke obscuring the New York skyline and the Washington Monument this week have given the world a new picture of the perils of wildfire, far from where blazes regularly turn skies into hazardous haze.
A third day of unhealthy air from Canadian wildfires may have been an unnerving novelty for millions of people on the U.S. East Coast, but it was a reminder of conditions routinely troubling the West Coast - and a wake-up call about the future, scientists say.
Millions of residents could see that for themselves Thursday. The conditions sent asthma sufferers to hospitals, delayed flights, postponed ballgames and even pushed back a White House Pride Month celebration. The fires sent plumes of fine particulate matter as far away as North Carolina and northern Europe and parked clumps of air rated unhealthy or worse over the heavily populated Eastern Seaboard.
The fires have been partly blamed on an unprecedented weather pattern this year, which saw California soaked by atmospheric rivers while parts of Canada were left severely dry.
"We got a lot of that moisture that they would typically get in the northern part of the country in North America," said Seth Mitchell, a division chief with the Angeles National Forest. "So that really set them up for drought like conditions."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.