Canada facing ‘deeply concerning’ wildfire season: Official
Canada is facing its worst early wildfire season on record, with 211 wildfires burning and 82 classified as uncontrollable, the country’s public safety minister said.
At a press conference on Thursday, Bill Blair explained that tens of thousands of people have been forced to evacuate in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories, Manitoba and Ontario, including “many from indigenous communities.”
All told, he said there had been 1,826 fires in the country by 2023, igniting 2.7 million hectares (6.7 million acres) of land – equivalent to more than 5 million football fields.
“These conditions, so early in the season, are unprecedented,” he said. “As a result of climate change, similar extreme weather events in our country may continue to increase in both frequency and severity.”
Lake Barrington, Shelburne County:
– the fire is still not under control, covering an area of 18,173 hectares (181.7 square kilometers)
– Firefighters include more than 35 from the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables (DNRR) and more than 40 volunteers / municipality. pic.twitter.com/Ci98RoRqxp
– Natural Resources and Renewables (@NS_DNRR) June 1, 2023
Blair added: ‘I would like to acknowledge the incredible human impact these disasters are having on Canadians. Many have lost their homes, their livelihoods and in some cases their entire communities.”
As he spoke, firefighters continued to battle fires in the eastern province of Nova Scotia, which was also experiencing the worst wildfires on record.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government approved the province’s request for assistance late Wednesday and Canadian forces had been sent to the area.
“We will continue to make sure Nova Scotians get the support they need,” he said in a tweet.
On Thursday, Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources and Renewables said 16 fires remained burning, the largest near Barrington Lake in Shelburne County. That fire consumed more than 18,000 hectares (44,480 acres) and is still classified as out of control.
— RCMP Nova Scotia (@RCMPNS) June 1, 2023
In a tweet, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Nova Scotia said about 40 percent of Shelburne County had been evacuated, with several streets closed amid smoky conditions and poor visibility.
No fatalities have been reported since the Nova Scotia fire broke out on Sunday. Provincial authorities said more than 20,000 people had been evacuated.
Officials gave more promising prospects for a blazing blaze in neighboring New Brunswick province on Wednesday. Roger Collet, a wildfire management officer with the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources, told local media that the blaze was still considered uncontrollable but had become more manageable.
Air quality warnings have been issued throughout the area, and several nearby regions in the northeastern United States also issued warnings of poor air quality. About 300 firefighters from the US and South Africa will soon be fighting to bring Canada’s fires under control, authorities said.
Firefighters also continued to fight fires in western Canada, where wildfires peaked in mid-May in the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta during unusually warm temperatures.
In a video posted to Facebook, Allan Adam, First Nation Chief of Athabasca Chipewyan, said more than 1,000 people were evacuated from the remote hamlet of Fort Chipewyan in northern Alberta on Wednesday.
“We’re staying behind and we’re going to help protect the community in ways we can,” he said.
While experts have long attributed extreme weather events in part to climate change, the issue remains politically fraught in Canada.
Following her election victory earlier this week, Alberta Prime Minister Danielle Smith of the United Conservative Party (UCP) called on her supporters to “stand shoulder to shoulder” against a set of proposed federal policies to cut carbon emissions by 40 to 45 percent by 2030. Reduce. including through caps on oil and gas emissions.
Alberta produces the majority of Canada’s oil and is also the country’s most polluting province.