More than 10 million hectares gone up in smoke in Canada
Sylvie Claire / July 16, 2023
More than 10 million hectares have burned in Canada this year, a figure well above anything the country has ever seen, and one that will continue to rise in the weeks ahead, according to government data released on Saturday.
The previous absolute record for area burned was 7.3 million hectares in 1989, according to national figures from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC). In all, the country has counted 4088 forest fires since January, and on Saturday 906 fires were still active, 570 of which were considered out of control. The sheer number and scale of these fires is forcing the authorities not to intervene, and to let most of them burn. It's mainly the boreal forest that's going up in smoke, far from inhabited areas. But with heavy consequences for the environment.
This year's figures are worse than our worst-case scenarios," Yan Boulanger, a researcher with the Canadian Ministry of Natural Resources, tells AFP. "What's really crazy is that there's been no let-up since the beginning of May," says this forest fire specialist. On Saturday, 906 fires were active in the country, 570 of which were considered out of control. No province has been spared.
At the start of the season, in May, it was Alberta in the West that concentrated all concerns, as it was quickly confronted with an unprecedented situation. A few weeks later, the mild Atlantic province of Nova Scotia, and especially Quebec, were caught up in megafires.
And since the beginning of July, the situation in British Columbia has taken a dramatic turn, with more than 250 fires starting in three days last week, triggered mainly by lightning. A large part of Canada is in a state of severe drought, with precipitation well below average for months, and hot temperatures.
Canada, whose geographical location is warming faster than the rest of the planet, has been confronted in recent years with extreme weather events whose intensity and frequency have been increased by climate change.