Wildfire in New Brunswick, Canada.HANDOUT (AFP)
The wave of wildfires continues to wreak havoc in Canada. Drought, high temperatures and strong winds feed the path of the flames. Quebec has joined the list of affected provinces in recent days. In a press conference on Monday in Ottawa, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described this wave as "unprecedented" for these months of the year. So far in 2023, more than 3.3 million hectares have burned in the country. Trudeau also pointed out that, according to projections, the scenario could worsen "throughout the summer", so his Government prepares different contingency plans.
The province of Quebec currently has 154 active fires. It already adds 420 in 2023, while the average of the last 10 years in the same period has been 199. The flames have spread especially in the regions of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, North Coast, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and Northern Quebec. More than 11,000 people have been evacuated, mostly residents of indigenous communities and small towns.
Aircraft and personnel of the Society for the Protection of Forests against Fire fight the flames. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces support a variety of tasks, just as they have in Alberta and Nova Scotia. Quebec Prime Minister François Legault urged people to stay away from forested areas and not to light open fires. He also warned of the effects caused by the smoke, since it has moved hundreds of kilometers from the fires. "We have problems with air quality even in Montreal," he said. The smoke has already crossed the Canadian border, having an impact on cities in the northern United States and darkening the sky of New York on Tuesday.
The Government of Alberta announced on Saturday the end of the state of emergency decreed on May six. However, this province still has 60 active fires; British Columbia faces 80 and Saskatchewan 23. Although the rains in recent days have improved the situation in Nova Scotia, firefighters are unable to control the Shelburne County fire, the largest in the records of this Atlantic province.
Le Canada fait face à de terrible fires.
La France est solidaire. Une centaine de nos soldats du feu se préparent à aller combattre les flammes aux côtés de leurs camarades québécois. Des experts sont aussi mobilisés.
Amis canadiens, les renforts arrivent.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) June 4, 2023
Prime Minister Trudeau: "We're going to get through this together and our government will continue to be there with whatever it takes to keep people safe and provide support." More than 3,000 Canadian firefighters are involved in the work. Some 900 from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and France have arrived to provide additional aid. Nearly 120,000 people have been evacuated in the provinces affected throughout these first months of 2023 by the flames and smoke.
Environment Canada experts say climate change has contributed to the increased frequency and intensity of wildfires. Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, said at the meeting of Trudeau and several members of his government with journalists on Monday in Ottawa: "We live in a new reality. A reality in which we have to listen carefully to what science tells us."
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