Wildfires in Canada continue to spread

Status: 05/08/2023 05:16

In western Canada, wildfires continue to spread – despite several rain showers and falling temperatures. The authorities speak of more than 375,000 hectares of burnt land. Nearly 30,000 people were evacuated.

Despite rain showers and falling temperatures, fires are spreading across Western Canada. Authorities announced on Sunday afternoon (local time) that more than 375,000 hectares of land had now burned in the province of Alberta. This corresponds to about a quarter of the size of Schleswig-Holstein. 28 of the 107 active forest fires are out of control.

In addition, according to the authorities, nearly 30,000 people have had to leave their homes.

The province of Alberta declared a state of emergency on Saturday evening due to the extent of the fire. This will free up federal funds to fight the fires.

Cooler temperatures expected

Recent rains have helped with firefighting, said Christie Tucker, head of the Alberta Wildfire Fire Protection Agency. “It gave firefighters the opportunity to work on some of the fires that they couldn’t get to due to the extreme nature of the fires.”

However, this “good news” only affects southern Alberta, not the north, where extremely difficult conditions continue to prevail. In their fight against fires, firefighters and rescuers focus on inhabited areas. Cooler temperatures and higher humidity are also expected in the coming days. She also asked for help from the neighboring US state of Montana, Tucker added.

The extent of the damage cannot yet be estimated, authorities said. Colin Blair, director of Alberta’s Emergency Preparedness Agency, said the priority was to protect lives and deal with emergencies, according to broadcaster CBC.

More than 360 fires since January

Authorities say there have been more than 360 fires since January. This is an exceptionally high number given that the month of May has only just begun. In 2016, Alberta had already experienced huge fires, at that time more than 2400 buildings had been destroyed.

Given climate change, experts warn that the frequency and intensity of wildfires will increase. In the prairie provinces in the west of the country, the average temperature has increased by 1.9 degrees Celsius since the middle of the 20th century, according to the Environment and Climate Change Agency Canada.

Emily Bond

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