Canada in the midst of its worst spring wildfire season: feds

According to officials from Natural Resources Canada, the country is experiencing an “unprecedented amount” of wildfires so early in the forest fire season.

Statistics used by members of the Northern Forestry Centre in a briefing with media said that “If this rate continues, we could exceed the largest total ever recorded in Canada.”

An area of land 11 times larger than the city of Toronto has burned from wildfires in the last four days according to the federal government making this Canada’s worst spring wildfire season to date.

As of Monday morning, there were 413 active fires underway, with the risk having spread to more provinces over the weekend.

Nearly 250 of those were out of control in nine provinces and two territories.

According to officials at NRC having this many fires from coast to coast at this time of year is not normal.

A comparison of previous fire seasons showed that so far that 2,214 fires nationally have burned approximately 3.3 million hectares – compared to a ten-year average of 1,624 fires and 254,426 hectares burned.

According to the numbers, there have been 120,000 evacuations so far. According to the briefing, 26,000 people are still out of their homes.

The outlook for the rest of the season remains dire.

In June the risk is well above average in every province and territory except Newfoundland and Labrador, where the risk is a little lower but still above average.

Statistics compiled by the Canada Interagency Forest Fire Centre show more than 7,300 square kilometres of land burned in the last four days.

That is nearly three times the average amount that has normally burned in the first five months of the year.

“Projections indicate potential for higher-than-normal fire activity across most of the country through to August,” the information said.  That includes areas from British Columbia to Quebec.

Last week, the chief of the Innu community of Maliotenam says roughly 1,500 people have been ordered to leave their homes because of fires burning in the area.

The community is located on the St. Lawrence River about 650 km northeast of Quebec City.

People have been advised to pack for a week.

They will be taken to another Innu community southwest of Baie-Comeau.

In Alberta, nearly a 1,000 people in the community of Fort Chipewyan located 300 km north of Fort McMurray were ordered to leave their homes this week ahead of approaching wildfires.

The remote location of Fort Chipewyan in Alberta is complicating the evacuation of the community.

The community is the northernmost and oldest settlement in Alberta, is only accessible in the summer months by plane or boat.

The evacuation was done in stages and a Canadian Armed Forced Hercules aircraft airlifted out 108 people, according to the Alberta Emergency management agency.

Read the information here: NRCan wildfire season update: 

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The federal government stands with people across the country “who are enduring this painful, heartbreaking time,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference Monday.

“We’re going to get through this together and our government will keep being there with whatever it takes to keep people safe and provide support,” he said.

“This is a scary time for a lot of people, not just in Alberta, but right across the country, including in the Atlantic, the North and Quebec, too.”

With files from Emelia Fournier, Danielle Paradis and the Canadian Press. 

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