Fires in western Canada: hundreds of thousands of hectares burned, “too early” to say if the peak has been reached

Forest fires continue to rage in Canada, thanks to persistently hot and dry weather in the province of Alberta, in the west of the country. It is “too early” to say if the peak of the fires has been reached, according to the emergency services.

More than 521,000 hectares have already burned in this province. Sunday evening, 88 forest fires were active, against 76 Thursday, of which 27 are still considered uncontrolled. In northern Alberta, the fire danger is “again extreme” according to provincial authorities.

It is still “too early to say if we have seen the peak of this situation” according to the rescue, because high temperatures and hot and dry conditions are still expected for several days. Since Saturday evening, several evacuation orders have been given in the north and center of the province, concerning nearly 3,000 people. In all, more than 19,000 Albertans are still evacuated from their homes. Last week, up to 30,000 people had been placed under evacuation orders.

A danger for cattle farms

On the ground, more than 1,500 firefighters from Alberta, supported by 800 firefighters from other provinces and the United States, are fighting the fires. 300 soldiers from the Canadian Armed Forces also came as reinforcements.

For several years, western Canada has been hit repeatedly by extreme weather events, the intensity and frequency of which are increased by global warming.

The current situation also poses problems on farms. The province, one of the largest oil-producing regions in the world, is also a rural area with many farms. Almost half are cattle ranches, but Alberta also produces a lot of wheat, grains and oilseeds. Canada is a major agricultural exporter. “There are literally hundreds of thousands of animals that are potentially affected due to the vastness of the area” of the fires, explained Danielle Smith, Premier of Alberta.

Cows at their new farm in Shining Bank, Alberta, Canada, May 11, 2023. The farmer who lost land to the fires had to move his cattle.
Cows at their new farm in Shining Bank, Alberta, Canada, May 11, 2023. The farmer who lost land to the fires had to move his cattle. AFP or licensors

The authorities have notably asked farmers this year to clear and sow as much as possible because this allows fuel sources to be buried and therefore slows the spread of fires. But for livestock, the situation is sometimes much more complex. A farmer explains that “it is impossible” for him to move them. “This spring, I have 850 beef cows. It’s not as if we could load them in a few minutes,” he said.

Source link

Leave a Reply