April 12, 2024

Wildfires in the Atlantic Canadian province of Nova Scotia have destroyed homes and caused thousands of people to evacuate.

As of Monday, around 16,400 people have been forced to leave their homes near Halifax, Nova Scotia’s largest city.

The region has seen over 100 more wildfires than last year, fuelled by drier than normal conditions.

Evacuation orders have also been issued in British Columbia as fires continue to blaze in the country’s west.

In a tweet on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the fires in Nova Scotia “incredibly serious” and said his government is on standby to offer assistance if needed.

A total of six wildfires were burning in Nova Scotia as of Monday afternoon – one of which is estimated to cover 788 hectares northwest of Halifax, according to the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources.

Halifax fire deputy chief Dave Meldrum told reporters that the fast-moving fire is “ongoing and still not under control”.

The blaze led officials to declare a local state of emergency in Halifax late on Sunday.

No injuries have been reported, but at least 10 structures have been destroyed by the fire, Mr Meldrum said.

A lack of rain in the forecast means it could take the rest of the week to fight the fire, he said.

Smoke from the Tantallon wildfire rises over houses in nearby Bedford, Nova Scotia, Canada, May 28, 2023IMAGE SOURCE,REUTERS
Image caption,

No injuries have been reported in the Nova Scotia fires, but at least 10 structures have been destroyed, officials said

Kara McCurdy, a fire prevention officer with the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables in Nova Scotia, said the province has had 176 wildfires so far this season compared to 70 last year.

“The early snow melt, the warmer winter, the warmer temperatures earlier in the month of March certainly added to drawing out all the fuels out there,” she told CBC on Sunday.

“For the past month we’ve barely had any rain in a lot of areas in Nova Scotia, which has also added to the dryness,” she said.

The neighbouring province of New Brunswick is also experiencing a wildfire, where about 400 homes have been evacuated as firefighters try to fight the blaze.

Canada’s western provinces have also grappled with dry weather in May that has fuelled out-of-control fires.

A fire sparked by lightning on 12 May in north-eastern British Columbia continues to burn and has grown significantly, local officials said.

More than two million hectares of land across the country have burned so far due to wildfires this year, according to data by Natural Resources Canada.

It has been one of the earliest fire seasons on record.

Experts say that while wildfires can be sparked by direct human involvement, natural factors can also play a huge part.

The cycle of extreme and long-lasting heat caused by climate change draws more and more moisture out of the ground and vegetation.


redit: Nadine Yousif
BBC News, Toronto

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