MONTREAL — Thousands of residents took part in western Canada on Wednesday, with several hundred troops deployed to fight this year’s fierce and early fires that are wreaking havoc in parts of western North America.
“I have a holiday trailer that’s my new home,” said Margo Wagner, a district chief in the Western Province of British Columbia who has found herself in the midst of an evacuation.
The fire is the second time in four years that his home in the province’s central Canim Lake rural area is at risk of fire.
South of the border, several communities in the United States are threatened by wildfires, according to experts, that have created conditions that the blazes have created their own climate.
About 80 huge fires are currently burning hundreds of thousands of hectares in California, Oregon, Montana and Nevada.
The largest of these is still the Bootleg Fire in Oregon, which in just two weeks burned through a stretch of land the same size as the city of Los Angeles.
In neighboring California, several towns were evacuated due to rising flames from the Dixie Fire, a fire that may have been caused by fallen trees on Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) lines.
Back in Canada, British Columbia declared a state of emergency on Monday, with more than 5,700 people under evacuation orders and more than 32,000 people under evacuation alert.
“We did it in 2017 and we’ll do it again in 2021. Is it stressful? Is it scary? Absolutely it is,” Wagner said.
Other neighboring regions are preparing for the worst since weather conditions – especially wind and heat – are not expected to give the 3,000 firefighters already fighting the fires a break any time soon.
“I’ve lived in Ashcroft for almost 25 years and I’ve never seen anything like it before,” said Mayor Barbara Roden, whose municipality in the center of the province has been on high alert since July 14.
“The most frightening thing in many ways is that we’re all looking at the calendar and it’s only halfway through July,” she said.
Climate change exacerbates droughts that dry out the region, creating ideal conditions for wildfires.
According to the Canadian Joint Operations Command, the Canadian Armed Forces are preparing to deploy 350 additional troops to British Columbia and 120 additional troops to Manitoba, a central province.
In Ontario, about 75 military personnel are helping firefighters.