Canada is in the grip of a series of devastating fires. More than 16,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes in Nova Scotia, in the east of the country, after one of the many fires ravaging the country threatened the city of Halifax, authorities said Monday.
The fire, still out of control northwest of the city, has not progressed since a state of emergency was declared on Sunday evening, leaving residents of the suburbs on alert, ready to evacuate at any time.
Houses and vehicles burned to the ground
"We really thought we were going to die," Marian and Peter Gillespie, a couple who found themselves caught between the flames, with "ashes and sparks falling on the car" as they fled the fire, told CBC. "It was surreal to drive in the middle of burning vehicles and homes," a volunteer firefighter told Radio-Canada with tears in his eyes.
18,000 people had to run from their homes as #nswildfires erupted north of #Halifax, Nova Scotia. This video is what some had to drive through. pic.twitter.com/81UePIwp1Y
— kenny sharpe (@kscSharpe) May 29, 2023
On television channels, large plumes of smoke can be seen and several houses and vehicles burned to the ground, but no injuries were reported. Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston described a province as "under tension," while Halifax Mayor Mike Savage called it an "unprecedented" fire.
"We have not expanded the perimeter (of the evacuation zone) since yesterday, which gives hope that the situation may have stabilized," he added at a press conference while stressing that it "remains dangerous".
A phenomenon increased by global warming
Although the winds that had fanned the flames changed direction on Monday, pushing the wildfire back in the direction it came from, that is not enough to remove the danger, authorities said. Only rain could allow them to control the fire, they said, but no precipitation is expected in the week.
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On Monday, wildfires were burning in eight of Canada's thirteen provinces and territories. In recent years, several regions of Canada, particularly in the West, have been repeatedly hit by extreme weather events, the intensity and frequency of which are increased by global warming.