Record-Breaking Heat Wave Fuels Unprecedented Wildfires in Eastern Canada.

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Unprecedented Heat Wave Intensifies Wildfires in Canada

Eastern Canada experienced a scorching heat wave on Thursday, breaking records and exacerbating wildfires that are raging along the Atlantic coast and other parts of the country. More than 210 fires are currently burning across Canada, with 82 of them classified as out of control. Officials report that over 2.7 million hectares have already been scorched this year, which is eight times the average of the past three decades.

Concerns Rise as Wildfires Intensify Early in the Season

Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair expressed deep concern over the “unprecedented” conditions occurring so early in the wildfire season during a news conference in Ottawa. After significant outbreaks in western provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan in May, firefighting efforts have shifted to Nova Scotia on the Atlantic coast, an area unaccustomed to severe wildfires. This shift was prompted by the hot, dry weather moving eastward.

Climate Change Impacts and Alarming Statistics

Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson acknowledged that Canada is experiencing the impacts of climate change, including more frequent and extreme wildfires. He projected that the amount of forest burned by wildfires could double by 2050. In Nova Scotia alone, 16 fires were burning on Thursday, resulting in the destruction of 200 homes and the displacement of nearly 20,000 residents. The scale of the devastation has left Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston deeply concerned.

Intensive Efforts to Combat the Fires

The Coast Guard and water bombers from neighboring provinces are providing assistance, additional equipment has been shipped in from Ontario, and firefighters from the United States and South Africa are en route. However, the situation remains dangerous and volatile, as stated by local natural resources official David Steeves. The hope is for Mother Nature to cooperate with firefighting efforts.

Widespread Impacts and Record Heat in Major Cities

Smoke from the fires has blanketed a significant portion of Nova Scotia and traveled down the Atlantic coast, resulting in air quality alerts for the US state of New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania. Major Canadian cities like Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa experienced temperatures exceeding 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit), setting heat records. People in affected areas resorted to various measures to beat the heat, such as drenching themselves with water or seeking shade under trees. The extreme weather conditions reflect the ongoing challenge of climate change in Canada, a country that is warming at a faster rate than the global average due to its northern location.

SOURCE: Ref – Montreal AFP

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