Number of wildfires across the country straining resources

Open this photo in the gallery:

Annapolis Royal Firefighters Jason Rock and Anthony Lopiandowski spray hot spots in the Birchtown area as they tackle wildfires in Shelburne County, NS on June 3.COMMUNICATIONS NOVA SCOTLAND/Reuters

Thousands of provincial firefighters are battling a devastating start to fire season, with hundreds of Canadian soldiers and foreign firefighters rushing to reinforce units in Nova Scotia, Alberta and Quebec, where thousands have been forced out. their homes.

Fresh rains over the weekend led Alberta to end its month-long state of emergency on Sunday, and similar weather conditions helped mitigate a spate of wildfires in Nova Scotia, where five blazes remained active in the province on Sunday afternoon and many of the 16,000 people who fled their suburban Halifax homes remain evacuated.

No deaths have been reported so far this season, but 10 times more land has burned on average than in the last decade, which has renewed calls for a federal solution to complement provincial and international fire resources. There are no estimates on how much federal and provincial firefighting efforts have cost so far this season.

To date, 566 firefighters have traveled between provinces this year to help other jurisdictions, and an additional 443 firefighters and other trained experts have arrived in Canada from Australia, New Zealand and the United States, by bomber and helicopters from Montana deployed to Nova Scotia on Sunday.

Another 200 firefighters from South Africa were deployed to Alberta on Sunday and the Quebec government said about 200 members of the Canadian military were working in that province. Quebec is also training an additional 200 firefighters to join their efforts, and 200 provincial police officers are now helping fight 35 fires across the province.

Questions about how to protect communities from wildfire risk loom as thousands flee their homes across the nation

On Sunday morning, French President Emmanuel Macron posted on social media that 100 of his country’s firefighters would soon travel to Quebec.

There were more than 150 active fires Sunday in the intensive zone, which covers roughly the southern half of the province, according to Quebec’s fire agency.

The provincial fire agency is not equipped to fight that many fires simultaneously, so its 475 firefighters are focused on protecting critical infrastructure, said provincial public safety minister François Bonnardel.

An estimated 14,000 people have been evacuated as fires continue to progress in Quebec, straining resources at a time when other provinces are still struggling to contain more out-of-control fires at home.

Mike Flannigan, a professor at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops who has studied fire’s interaction with weather and climate for more than 35 years, said Ottawa is spending more money each fire season by sending its military to help suppress fires and to evacuate people. So, he argues, the federal government must explore the possibility of creating its own national pool of seasonal firefighters and a squadron of water bombers.

Dr Flannigan estimated that 20 teams of 20 firefighters, the standard number of people countries export internationally, would go a long way in quickly jumping on fires before they get too big to fight.

Canada, among the world’s most tree-bearing countries, has been very successful at managing fires, but experts predict that the number of fires too intense to be suppressed even by large water tanks could double by the end of this century.

The Winnipeg-based Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, which helps provinces meet requests for firefighters from other parts of Canada and six other countries, said it took about a week for 200 firefighters South Africans arriving in Alberta after a request for international aid had been sent.

Spokeswoman Jennifer Kamau told The Globe and Mail Sunday that obtaining visas for foreign firefighters, chartering the planes and connecting them with Canada’s fire agency often takes at least that long, with an average of about 10 -12 days. The center can also ask Mexico and Costa Rica for help and is currently in talks with a handful of other countries to secure new bilateral firefighter sharing agreements, she added.

Federal Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said during a briefing in Ottawa on Thursday that his government is concerned there won’t be enough people and equipment where and when it’s needed as an area nearly five times the size of the Prince Edward Island burned in eight provinces and the Northwest Territories.

On Sunday, its spokesmen declined to say whether the federal government had studied the feasibility of creating a national corps of fire personnel to deal with Canada’s wildfires or a squadron of water bombers to assist provinces and territories in suppressing the wildfires. . An emailed statement said Blair is working to update the Federal Emergency Response Plan and this new framework will reflect the reality of the rise in climate-related events.

Officials said Sunday the fire that ravaged the Halifax area was 100% contained. The Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources said the Tantallon fire northwest of the provincial capital’s center is now under control and no longer growing.

The fire broke out a week ago, forcing 16,000 people from their suburban homes and damaging or destroying some 200 structures, including dozens of homes.

In Shelburne County, meanwhile, the Barrington Lake fire, the largest in the province’s history, continues to burn out of control.

The fire covers 250 square kilometers and has destroyed at least 50 houses and cottages.

With reports by Cassie MacDonell and The Canadian Press

#Number #wildfires #country #straining #resources

Leave a Comment