More than 10 million hectares have burned this year in Canada, a figure well above anything the country has ever seen and which will continue to rise in the coming weeks, according to government data released on Saturday.
The previous all-time record for burned areas dates back to 1989 with 7.3 million hectares, according to national figures from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center (CIFFC). In total, the country has counted 4,088 forest fires since January, and on Saturday 906 fires were still active, including 570 considered out of control. The scale of the fires and their multitude oblige the authorities not to intervene and therefore to let the majority burn. It is mainly the boreal forest that goes up in smoke, far from inhabited areas. But with serious consequences for the environment.
“We find ourselves this year with figures that are worse than our most pessimistic scenarios,” Yan Boulanger, a researcher for the Canadian Ministry of Natural Resources, told AFP. “What is completely crazy is that there has been no respite since the beginning of May,” analyzes this forest fire specialist. On Saturday, 906 fires were active in the country, including 570 considered out of control. No province is spared.
Extreme weather events
At the start of the season, in May, it was Alberta in the West that concentrated all the concerns by being confronted very quickly with an unprecedented situation. A few weeks later, Nova Scotia, an Atlantic province with a very mild climate, and especially Quebec were in turn caught in megafires.
And since the beginning of July, it is in British Columbia that the situation has taken a dramatic turn with more than 250 starts of fires in three days last week, triggered mainly by lightning. Much of Canada is in a severe drought state with far below average rainfall for months and warm temperatures.
Canada, which due to its geographical location is warming faster than the rest of the planet, has been confronted in recent years with extreme weather events whose intensity and frequency have been increased by climate change.