Canada, already facing its first forest fires, fears a "catastrophic » summer

Steph Deschamps / April 23, 2024

Several major forest fires have broken out in western Canada in recent days, marking the start of a very early season in a region affected by severe drought, leading authorities to fear another "catastrophic" summer.
 
In the province of British Columbia, which borders the Pacific coast, firefighters are hard at work in the central Cariboo region, where a human-caused fire grew rapidly over the weekend and is currently considered to be "out of control ».
 
The Burgess Creek fire, which has already devoured more than 1,600 hectares of vegetation, "is very indicative of the conditions we're currently experiencing", Madison Dahl of the province's fire department told AFP on Tuesday, referring to an early season. "We're facing an incredible drought," she adds. For the time being, the fire is not threatening any infrastructure, but an evacuation alert has been issued. Residents in the area should be prepared to evacuate.
 
In total, more than 110 fires are active in this province, some of which started last year but never went out. In neighboring Alberta, 66 fires are also active, of which "36 date back to the 2023 season", explains Melissa Story of Alberta's Forest Fire Management Branch.
 
In addition, several fires were reported in the Fort McMurray region, northwest of the province, triggering an evacuation alert. This city, located in the middle of the boreal forest and known for its oil sands, was ravaged in May 2016. The fire remains the biggest disaster in Canadian history, destroying more than 2,500 buildings at a cost of nearly 10 billion Canadian dollars.
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