Unprecedented wildfires ravage Canada, displacing thousands

Unprecedented wildfires ravage Canada, displacing thousands. Devastating fires rage from east to west in Canada. Wildfires in Canada surpass annual carbon emissions record, reports the European observatory Copernicus. (Photo/AP Archive)

From east to west, Canada is in the grips of an unprecedented wildfire season and its peak, which usually comes in July or August, has not even been reached.

No province has been spared, not even Quebec and Nova Scotia in the east, which don't normally see large blazes.

Here's a brief overview of what Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said Tuesday was "Canada's worst wildfire season on record" by the numbers.

Close to 500 active fires

A total of 490 wildfires were burning on Tuesday, more than half of which were considered out of control. These started in Western Canada in early May, prompting a state of emergency in Alberta and evacuations of tens of thousands of people.

A few weeks later, as rains brought some relief to Western Canada, firefighting efforts shifted to Nova Scotia on the Atlantic Coast and Quebec, unaccustomed to the massive scale and strength of this year's blazes.

Today, Quebec remains the top hotspot in the country, with 112 active fires and the smoke spreading as far as the United States and Europe.

In total, more than 100,000 people were displaced by wildfires across Canada.

7.8 million hectares scorched

In a typical year, about 7,500 wildfires burn more than 2.5 million hectares of forests in Canada. So far this year, more than 7.8 million hectares (19 million acres) - an area almost as big as Austria - have been scorched.

In Quebec, 1.3 million hectares have burned so far, compared to an average of less than 10,000 annually over the past decade. The area burned in the last 25 days exceeded the combined total over the past 20 years.

Carbon emissions high

Carbon emissions released by the wildfires have already exceeded the Canadian annual record, according to the European observatory Copernicus.

Since early May, they have generated nearly 600 million tons of CO2, equivalent to 88 percent of the country's total greenhouse gas emissions from all sources in 2021, it reported.

Canadian fires alone in 2023 now account for over 10 percent of global carbon emissions from forest fires in 2022 (1,455 megatons).


Source: TRT