Quebec, which has become the epicentre of the forest fires that are engulfing much of Canada, expects to have to evacuate thousands more people in the coming hours, said Wednesday the premier of the province.
In total, more than 11,000 Quebecers have already had to leave their homes, and the French-speaking province is preparing to evacuate an additional 4000,<> people.
A hundred fires out of control
After Alberta and Nova Scotia, it is the turn of Quebec to be hit by fires "never seen": 150 fires are currently active, including a hundred considered out of control. And no heavy rain is expected until Monday night. "With the numbers we currently have, we can cover about 40 fires at the same time but there are 150 active," said Quebec Premier François Legault. "We need to focus on the places where it's most urgent," he continued.
Quebec has deployed hundreds of people on the ground. With international help, including the hundred firefighters from France who are expected to arrive by Friday, the province hopes to increase its workforce to 1200 people. The question of equipment and manpower will be crucial in the coming days, the authorities acknowledge. "The more time goes on, the more challenges there are going to be on the driver and mechanic side. There is an issue on this side, "pointed François Legault.
See alsoFires in Canada: after the west, why is the east of the country affected by violent fires?
Since the beginning of the year, the French-speaking province has recorded 438 fires, compared to an average of 200 on the same date over the past ten years. The situation is also considered exceptional by the authorities in terms of the number of hectares burned at this time of year. Canada as a whole is experiencing an unprecedented year: 2293 forest fires were recorded and approximately 3.8 million hectares burned, a total well above the average of recent decades.
The country, which is warming faster than the rest of the planet because of its geographical location, has been confronted in recent years with extreme weather events whose intensity and frequency are increased by climate change. In a few days, the fires have degraded air quality on a large scale: the capital Ottawa, like Toronto, and across the border, New York, are caught in a grayish haze, dangerous especially for children and the elderly. In Washington, a pungent smell was felt under a cloudy sky despite sunny weather.