More than 300 firefighters from the United States and South Africa will assist Canada in fighting the country’s wildfires. Canada is experiencing an exceptionally tough wildfire season, with fires in both the eastern province of Nova Scotia and the western province of Alberta. Thousands of people have had to leave their homes because of the fires.
The first 100 American firefighters are expected to arrive in Nova Scotia next week. There they will help to get a large wildfire under control that has so far reduced about 200 (holiday) homes to ashes. The South African support, some 200 strong, is expected to go initially to Alberta.
Across the country, some 2.7 million hectares of nature have been lost to the fires so far, says Emergency Situations Minister Blair. According to him, the ten-year average is 500 square kilometers, which makes the current situation very exceptional. Of the 211 wildfires witnessed so far in Canada, 82 are burning uncontrolled. The number of fires is not exceptional, but their size is.
“These conditions this early in the season are unprecedented,” says Blair. “Due to climate change, these kinds of consequences of extreme weather events can occur more often and strike more seriously in our country.” Natural Resources Minister Wilkinson also calls it “a simple fact” that Canada is facing the consequences of climate change.
Prime Minister Trudeau has also expressed his concern about the wildfires, which are also threatening inhabited areas in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. “The stories and images from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick break my heart. We know that people are extremely concerned about what is going on. As a federal government, we are standing by. We will be there to support people.”
The wildfires are also affecting air quality in the United States. In western Michigan, northern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, among others, the meteorological service NWS expects high concentrations of pollutants in the air as a result of the fires. “Groups susceptible to this should do as little strenuous outdoor activity as possible.”
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