Global Allies Rally to Aid Unprecedented Wildfire Battle in Canada

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Smoke rises from a wildfire in Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia, Canada, in this screen grab taken from a video, June 8, 2023. BC Wildlife Service/Handout via REUTERS

International Support Pours In as Devastating Blazes Engulfs Canada

OTTAWA – Allies from around the world have joined forces with Canada to combat the devastating wildfires that have engulfed the nation, marking its worst-ever start to wildfire season. The blazes, which have been fueled by warm and dry conditions, have forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes and have affected mining operations in Canada, as well as disrupted flights in the United States.

Canada’s firefighting resources have been stretched thin, with wildfires burning simultaneously in both the east and west. To address this dire situation and combat the worsening consequences of climate change, the Canadian government has enlisted the help of its military and received support from various nations.

Members of the U.S. Navy’s ceremonial wing rehearse amid a shroud of haze and smoke caused by wildfires in Canada on the National Mall in Washington, June 8, 2023. REUTERS/Joey Roulette

The United States has been at the forefront of assisting, having sent hundreds of firefighters to Canada and pledging additional support. President Joe Biden, acknowledging the urgency of the situation, directed his administration to promptly respond to requests for additional firefighters and fire suppression assets. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his gratitude to President Biden and highlighted the need for international collaboration in addressing the devastating impacts of climate change.

Democratic U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer echoed these concerns, emphasizing the reality of the climate crisis and calling for the doubling of U.S. assistance to Canada. Responding to the call for aid, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand have also provided support. European countries, including France, Portugal, and Spain, have dispatched over 280 firefighters to Canada.

People wear protective masks as the Roosevelt Island Tram crosses the East River while haze and smoke from the Canadian wildfires shroud the Manhattan skyline, June 7, 2023. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Tens of Thousands Evacuated, Mining Operations Impacted, and Flights Disrupted in Canada’s Worst-Ever Wildfire Season; Collaborative Efforts Highlight Urgency in Addressing Climate Change

The province of Quebec has been particularly hard-hit, with numerous fires requiring the evacuation of over 12,600 residents. While the situation is slowly stabilizing, concerns remain as more than 130 fires continue to burn across the province. In Alberta, the centre of Canada’s oil and gas industry, record-breaking fires have subsided, but over 3,000 people remain under evacuation orders, and heat warnings persist in the southern region.

Meanwhile, in British Columbia, the second-largest wildfire on record rages on, prompting the evacuation of the community of Tumbler Ridge and necessitating expanded evacuation orders in the Peace River region. The province has experienced soaring temperatures, well above the seasonal average, and the risk of further fires remains, particularly with the possibility of lightning strikes.

Smoke rises from a wildfire in Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia, Canada, in this screen grab taken from a video, June 8, 2023. BC Wildlife Service/Handout via REUTERS

The impact of these wildfires extends beyond Canada’s borders, with smoke and haze engulfing cities in the United States and eastern Canada. Poor air quality has affected major metropolitan areas such as Ottawa, Toronto, New York, and Washington. The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) reports that, so far this year, there have been 2,372 fires, resulting in the burning of approximately 4.3 million hectares (10.6 million acres), a staggering 15 times the annual average of the past decade.

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The international community has recognized the severity of the situation and has responded with solidarity. Firefighters from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States have arrived in Canada to provide crucial support in containing the blazes. As Canada battles this unprecedented wildfire season, the collaborative efforts of nations worldwide serve as a testament to the urgent need for collective action against climate change. – Reuters