Officials warned Monday that Canada faces terrible wildfires over the coming months, after vast swaths of forest and grassland burned from its coasts from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
About 26,000 people are still displaced by the fires at the moment, and about 120,000 had to flee at some point over the past month.
From far western British Columbia to Nova Scotia on the east coast, about 3.3 million hectares (8.2 million acres) have burned so far.
“Our presentation shows that this could be a particularly severe wildfire season throughout the summer,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference.
Officials noted particularly hot and dry conditions in recent months, which are expected to continue into August.
Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said that if the current trajectory continues, “it’s very good that it will… be Canada’s most dangerous fire season ever,” with fires already burning 10 times the historical area average.
“Every province and territory should be on high alert throughout the wildfire season,” he added.
Currently, 413 fires are burning across Canada, including 249 that are out of control. Three provinces — Alberta, Nova Scotia and Quebec — have requested federal assistance.
Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said the country had seen “some of the most serious (fires) ever seen in Canada,” and should prepare for “higher-than-normal fire activity.”
Wildfire risk is likely to “increase in June and remain extraordinarily high throughout the summer across the country,” Wilkinson said. “This shows us that this year’s already devastating season could get worse.”
Canada has repeatedly experienced severe weather in recent years, the intensity and frequency of which has increased due to global warming.
After major clashes erupted in the west of the country in May, particularly in the prairie provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, firefighting operations in recent weeks have shifted to Nova Scotia in the east, and most recently to Quebec.
A fire that threatened the outskirts of Halifax, Nova Scotia’s largest city, was contained over the weekend with rain and cooler weather helping firefighting efforts. Some of the evacuees were allowed to return to their homes.
In Quebec, the small town of Clova has been abandoned in the face of growing fires, forcing its 36 residents to flee. About 10,000 residents of Sept-El also remained under an eviction order.
As resource pressures increased, Ottawa sent the army to help in the hot spots.
About 1,000 firefighters from Australia, France, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States also arrived or were on their way to step up firefighting efforts.
© 2023 AFP
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