August 3, 2021

Western Canada declares state of emergency due to escalating fires

The province of western Canada declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, July 20, due to the progression of fires which are expected to increase in the coming days due to the heat and winds.

“We have reached a critical point”, announced Mike Farnworth, the Minister of Public Safety of British Columbia, during a press briefing. “On the advice of those responsible for managing emergencies, forest fires, and deteriorating weather conditions, I declare a provincial state of emergency. “

A decision which makes it possible to envisage a massive evacuation of the inhabitants of the region and which provides the government with the means to provide accommodation for the evacuees, further specifies the minister.

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More than 32,000 people subject to an evacuation alert

More than 5,700 people were targeted on Tuesday by an evacuation order in the province, more than double the previous day, and more than 32,000 people under an evacuation alert without obligation for the fire.

“Please prepare an escape plan for your family”, asked Cliff Chapman, the chief of fire operations in British Columbia, who said that 3,000 km2 of land had already gone up in smoke. According to him, it is already three times more than the average of the last ten years.

The region has nearly 300 active forest fires and the hot, dry weather will continue with more wind in the coming days, especially in the interior and southwest of the province on the border with the United States. . More than 3,180 firefighters and personnel are currently at work in the province.

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83 big fires ravage the United States

These fires have ravaged western Canada for several weeks now after an episode of very intense heat at the end of June, a consequence of global warming for experts. Across the border, 83 large fires are ravaging the United States, some so dangerous that firefighters compare them to “Monsters”.

The remains of cars destroyed by the

The « Bootleg Fire », in Oregon, is by far the most impressive. Already larger than the city of Los Angeles, it continues to grow, fueled by winds and a major drought.

Even New York, on the other side of the country, was covered in a gray haze that tasted of smoke caused by the fires on Tuesday, which forced the city to issue an air quality alert.

New York City through a blanket of smoke on July 20, 2021.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint” assured Rob Allen, in charge of fire management in the area. Some 2,250 firefighters take turns night and day to try to put out the blaze. “We will be there as long as it takes to contain this monster safely”, he promised.

Read also During the heatwave in Canada, a fire wipes a village from the map

The World with AFP