(Ottawa) Canada’s record wildfire season has now seen 100,000 square kilometers of land scorched as flames continue to burn uncontrollably across the country.
The total area burned is roughly the size of Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and Lake Michigan combined.
“There are still very, very large fires and a number of them are out of control, so that number will continue to increase,” Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said in an interview on Thursday. about the large amount of scorched land.
Canada surpassed the record set in 1989 for total area burned in a season on June 27, when the figure totaled 76,000 square kilometers, and communities faced evacuation orders, heat warnings and poor air quality for months.
The majority of fires are now in Western Canada, with British Columbia having the most, with more than 370 of the country’s 878 active fires, according to data from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center.
More than half of those fires were out of control by Sunday afternoon.
The Northwest Territories reported Sunday that a firefighter died from an injury sustained while battling a blaze near his home community of Fort Liard the previous day. No further information will be released until his family has been notified.
He was the second firefighter to die in less than a week, after 19-year-old Devyn Gale was killed by a falling tree on Thursday near Revelstoke, British Columbia.
Based on forecast conditions, the federal Department of Natural Resources expects the wildfire season to continue to be exceptionally intense through July and into August.
The good news, according to Minister Blair, is that conditions should improve significantly in eastern Canada if the seven-day weather forecast holds.
“The situation is much less serious than it was a week and a half ago,” said the minister, while acknowledging that very serious fires out of control continue to burn on the East Coast, as well as in Ontario and in Quebec.
The government has not yet put a figure on the costs associated with wildfires, but Mr Blair said they are expected to be significant given the extent of the fires and the duration and intensity of their burning.
The other silver lining, he said, is that so far the flames have not compromised critical community infrastructure like they did in Fort McMurray in 2016, when the fire destroyed thousands of homes and businesses. buildings.