Smoke from dozens of wildfires in the Pacific Northwest and western Canada coated northern New England with a thick layer of haze Saturday even as more than two dozen Mainers helped battle the blazes there.
While the smoke has posed no health risks so far, it did turn what otherwise would have been bright blue skies into a silvery haze.
“It is enough to make the sun appear milky,” said Steve Capriola, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray.
Capriola said the smoke arrived over northern New England on Thursday after it was sucked into the jet stream at 25,000 to 35,000 feet and pumped over the region.
“We could see it as it came across Canada and worked its way over New England,” said Capriola, referring to satellite images.
Capriola said the smoke is too far up to pose a health risk. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has not issued an air quality alert.
Capriola said the smoke extends into the Canadian Maritimes.
The haze is expected to continue until the weather pattern shifts and the flow comes out of the southwest sometime late Sunday or Monday.
The fires in Oregon and Washington, which have consumed a million acres and destroyed more than 150 homes since mid-July, were triggered by lightning.
About 25 Mainers have been helping to extinguish the fires, many of them leaving for the west in the past week.
Gregg Hesslein, a Maine Forest Service district manager in Gray, said the firefighters include forest service rangers and foresters and municipal firefighters. They are spread out in Oregon and Washington state among six 20-man crews from New England and New York.
Hesslein said the firefighters gain valuable experience and required training during their two-week stints, which may be extended to three weeks if all members of the crew agree.
The federal government picks up all the costs, Hesslein said.