About 10,000 people have been ordered to leave a Quebec city amid hundreds of fires across the country.
About 10,000 people have been ordered to leave a coastal city in Canada’s Quebec province, marking the latest evacuation amid weeks of wildfires across the country.
Friday’s order for Sept-Iles residents came after a nearby fire “progressed very quickly” overnight, according to the town’s mayor, Steeve Beaupre, who declared a local state of emergency.
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Bill Blair, the country’s minister of public security, has said the ferocity of Canada’s early wildfire season this year was “unprecedented”, with more than 1,826 fires ravaging 2.7 million hectares (6.7 million acres) of land in strike fire.
More than 210 fires were still burning across Canada on Friday, with about 29,000 people evacuated ahead of Quebec’s most recent order, he said.
There were more than 210 fires in Canada on Friday (Communications Nova Scotia/The Canadian Press via AP)
Stephane Lauzon, a member of parliament from Quebec, told a press conference in Ottawa that about 100 fires were raging in the province – “many more than yesterday”.
“The situation is changing rapidly in Quebec,” Lauzon said. About 20 of those fires were classified as out of control.
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Raging fires recently ravaged Nova Scotia on Canada’s Atlantic coast after major flare-ups in mid-May ravaged large parts of the western provinces of Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
“This is a scary time for a lot of people from coast to coast to coast,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Friday.
Wildfires are more common in western Canada, but fires along the Atlantic coast have underlined the increasingly extreme weather the country has faced in recent years amid rising global temperatures.
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About 200 homes have been destroyed and nearly 20,000 residents displaced in Nova Scotia, where busloads of residents were taken on Friday tours of the damage in the province’s largest city, Halifax.
Nova Scotia’s climate is heavily influenced by the North Atlantic Ocean, which typically brings higher humidity and more moderate temperatures than many other parts of the country.
While fires are not uncommon, they tend to be much smaller than those in the west, with the region buffered in part by the vast Acadian Forest with deciduous trees less flammable than other types.
However, speaking to Reuters news agency, Weather Network meteorologist Michael Carter said there was little snow in the winter followed by an exceptionally dry spring, which contributed to the current fires.
Ellen Whitman, a research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service, told the news agency that — while it’s difficult to determine the impact of climate change on a single fire season — Canada’s Atlantic provinces have been much hotter than usual. Scientists expect that the temperature in the region will continue to rise in the coming years.
Across Canada, the land burned by wildfires in 2023 is more than 10 times the average that typically burns at this time of year, Public Security Minister Blair said Friday, citing data points over the past decade.
At least 93 of the country’s active fires were still labeled uncontrollable, he said, adding that 1,000 firefighters from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States have arrived or are on their way to bolster firefighting efforts.
Ottawa has also begun deploying the military to Nova Scotia to help, he said.
“The situation remains serious across the country,” Blair said.
Weather forecasts show a period of cooler, wetter air moving into Canada’s Atlantic regions on Friday, with experts hoping conditions will provide a reprieve from the blaze.