Canada’s western province of British Columbia declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, July 20, when wildfires are expected to get bigger in the coming days due to high heat and strong winds.
About 5,700 people were ordered to evacuate in the province on Tuesday (20/7). That number is more than double the previous day’s tally, as the threatened area grows larger.
Around 32 thousand more people have been on alert.
“Please prepare an evacuation plan for your family,” said Cliff Chapman, director of operations for the British Columbia Fire Service.
The fires have ravaged western Canada and the West Coast of the United States (US) for several weeks after a searing heatwave in late June that experts say is linked to climate change.
Chapman said an area of about 3,000 square kilometers had burned in British Columbia – more than three times the average area normally burned at that point in the year.
The province now has nearly 300 areas of active forest fires, fueled by hot and dry weather that is expected to continue in the coming days, as well as wind speeds that can spread the fires.
In the United States, more than 80 major fires have occurred, the largest in the state of Oregon. The fire nicknamed Bootleg Fire has scorched nearly 390 thousand hectares. The area that burned was bigger than Los Angeles.
“Putting out this fire is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Rob Allen, commander of firefighters in the zone, in a statement Tuesday.
“We are here as long as it takes to safely contain this monster.” Smoke has reached as far as the eastern United States and Canada, which are partially shrouded in gray smog Tuesday (20/7). [lt/ft]