Canada Braces for 'Explosive Wildfire Season'

Country has just had its warmest winter on record
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2024 7:11 AM CDT
Canada Could Face 'Explosive' Wildfire Season
Wildfire smoke hangs in the air as trees burned by the Bush Creek East Wildfire stand on the mountains above Little Shuswap Lake, in Squilax, British Columbia, Sept. 11, 2023.   (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

Last year was Canada's worst wildfire season on record by a long way—and authorities are warning that this year could be even worse. Government officials say an unusually warm winter, drought conditions, and dry, hot weather to come could cause an "explosive" wildfire season, the BBC reports. Officials say snowpack levels are unusually low in many areas and more than 70 fires are already burning, including "zombie fires" that have been smoldering since last year, reports the CBC. Resources were stretched very thin last year and the government is training 600 new firefighters and increasing a tax credit for volunteer firefighters.

Canada has just had its warmest winter on record and with extreme drought conditions recorded in parts of Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia, officials say wildfire season is expected to arrive early. "Wildfires have always occurred across Canada—what is new is their frequency and their intensity," says Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada's natural resources minister. "The science is clear the root cause of this is climate change. That is why Canada has one of the most comprehensive climate plans in the world and why we are continuing to move forward on it every day."

Last year, fires burned around 37 million acres in Canada—an area around the same size as Illinois—causing terrible air quality in much of the US, especially the Northeast. In Canada, the record-breaking wildfire season caused the country to rise in global pollution rankings, air quality technology company IQAir reported last month. The company said that in contrast to previous years, when Canada had the best air quality in North America, the 13 most polluted cities in North America last year were all in Canada, the CBC reports. (More wildfires stories.)

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