16.9 C
Sunday, October 1, 2023
HomeScienceCanada faces a logistical challenge in dealing with an unprecedented fire season.

Canada faces a logistical challenge in dealing with an unprecedented fire season.


This image provided by the BC Wildfire Service on June 7 shows smoke from the West Kiskatinaw River and wildfires at Peavine Creek in the Dawson Creek District, British Columbia, Canada.

The largest and most powerful wildfires ever recorded have burned millions of hectares of Canadian forests and displaced tens of thousands of people. With so many fires out of control and no relief in sight, the nation faces a logistical nightmare.

After an early start, it is on track to be the worst wildfire season on record as hot and dry conditions are expected to continue into August.

“The distribution of fires from coast to coast this year is extraordinary,” said Michael Norton, an official with Canada’s Department of Natural Resources. “At this time of year, fires usually only occur in one side of the country at a time, often in the West.”

But in the past month, fires have broken out in nearly every province across Canada.

As a result, Canada was forced to juggle resources and call in reinforcements from abroad, including more than 1,000 firefighters from Australia, the United States, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, France, Spain and Portugal.

How is the battle for taming fires organized?

All of Canada’s 10 provinces are responsible for managing wildfires, with help from the Interagency Canada Wildfire Center. Alberta, Nova Scotia, and Quebec also asked Ottawa to send an army.

In addition, 1,000 new firefighters are being trained for deployment this summer, and the Army’s firefighting capabilities are also being expanded.

This posted image provided by helicopter pilot Kevin Burton shows an aerial view of the bushfires between Chipogamao and Misty

This released photo provided by helicopter pilot Kevin Burton shows an aerial view of wildfires between Chipugamau and the Mesticene Indigenous community in northern Quebec on June 5, 2023.

They face a daunting task: “When a large fire is raging, it is impossible for firefighters to launch a direct attack,” explains Marc-Andre Parisienne, a specialist in fire risk management.

Then he said that “sending water bombers to put out the fire 30 meters high is like spitting on a campfire, it is ineffective.”

One solution is to use controlled burns to stop advancing fires, but with large fires, “only a heavy rain” will put them out.

What are the logistical challenges?

Quebec particularly struggled to fight off all of the many fires burning in the province at once, due to a lack of resources.

“With the current hands, we can fight about 40 fires at a time, but 150 are burning,” Quebec Premier Francois Legault told a news conference this week.

The focus was on trying to save urban life and property mostly under threat.

A landscape burnt by wildfires near Entrance, Wild High, Alberta, Canada on May 10

A landscape burnt by wildfires is pictured near Entrance, Wild High, Alberta, Canada on May 10.

Canada has an old fleet of 55 water bombers. “It’s getting more and more difficult to maintain because of the age of this fleet,” said John Greddick, chair of the Aviation Management Program at McGill University, which is now 50 years old.

It is estimated that with half the fleet in poor condition, and with more severe weather expected in the coming years, another 75 waterboats are urgently needed.

How do you prepare for the new normal?

In a typical year, about 7,500 wildfires burn more than 2.5 million hectares of forest in Canada. So far this year, 2,293 fires have already burned more than 3.8 million hectares.

The area of ​​burned forests is expected to double by 2050.

“With every degree increase in temperature in the boreal forest, we expect the fires to triple in size,” noted forest fire researcher Yann Boulanger.

According to climate scientists, Canada is warming faster than the rest of the planet. May was one of the warmest months on record. And the heat intensified in eastern Canada under an early heat wave in June.

In this May 30 photo provided by the Government of Nova Scotia Canada Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Station 54 Captain Na

In this May 30 photo provided by the Government of Nova Scotia, Canada, Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Station 54 Captain Natasha Birst directs firefighters working to put out bushfires in the Tantallon region of Nova Scotia.

“Our resources are depleted,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted.

“There is no doubt that in the coming years we will have to seriously think about how we can prepare ourselves to deal with this new reality. We will face more and more extreme weather events,” he said.

Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said Canada was looking to get additional equipment and water launchers.

Parliament is also considering increasing tax breaks for volunteer firefighters to entice more to join their ranks. An estimated 15,000 more are needed.

Several experts have also called for updating building codes for rural construction—requiring fireproof roofs on homes, for example—and even planting less flammable trees.

“You have to have a buffer zone between the wooded area and your town site. Thus, if a fire starts to burn, it will run out of fuel by the time it gets to the front porch,” said climatologist Dave Phillips.

Ottawa also benefits from Aboriginal knowledge and practices used to fight wildfires for thousands of years.

© 2023 AFP

the quote: Facing Unprecedented Fire Season, Canada Faces Logistics Challenge (2023, June 9) Retrieved June 9, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-06-unpreced-season-canada-logistics.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for informational purposes only.

The author of what'snew2day.com is dedicated to keeping you up-to-date on the latest news and information.

Latest stories