Science

Fires: Western Canada declares state of emergency, thousands of residents ordered to evacuate

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

“We have reached a critical point,” Mike Farnworth, British Columbia’s Minister of Public Safety, said during a press briefing.

“Based on the advice of those responsible for managing emergencies and forest fires, and deteriorating weather conditions, I declare a provincial state of emergency,” he added.

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.

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, with no obligation for the fire.

“Please prepare an evacuation plan for your family,” asked Cliff Chapman, the chief of fire operations in British Columbia, who said 3,000 square kilometers 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.

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 “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 severe drought.

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

“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.

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