British Columbia, Canada: As Canada grapples with the most severe wildfires in its history, the province of British Columbia has declared a state of emergency to address the ongoing natural disaster. This relentless wildfire season has prompted the premier of British Columbia, David Eby, to describe it as the worst the province has ever faced.
Premier David Eby took to Twitter to convey the gravity of the situation, stating that the past 24 hours have witnessed rapid developments, leading to an extremely challenging period ahead. Given the rapidly changing conditions, a provincial state of emergency has been declared.
The unfolding crisis has led to evacuation orders for approximately 15,000 individuals, as major cities like Kelowna find themselves threatened by the sweeping wildfires. This declaration of emergency in British Columbia follows a similar announcement in the Northwest Territories (NWT). In Yellowknife, the capital of NWT, the entire population is being evacuated, with residents seeking refuge in the neighboring province of Alberta.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau personally visited evacuees in Edmonton, Alberta, expressing his concern for the unprecedented situation unfolding in the Northwest Territories. Premier Caroline Cochrane of NWT tweeted that the country is united in solidarity during this trying time.
In response to the crisis, the Canadian Armed Forces have been actively involved in rescue operations. The Minister of National Defence, Bill Blair, announced that the air force is conducting evacuation flights from Yellowknife. The comprehensive evacuation measures have been taken to safeguard the city from the encroaching fires.
This year, over 5,500 wildfires have ravaged provinces and territories across Canada, with the impact becoming more widespread. Climate change was identified by Prime Minister Trudeau in April as a contributing factor to this catastrophic scenario. While the eastern and Atlantic provinces like Quebec, Alberta, and Ontario initially experienced the wildfires, the situation has now intensified in British Columbia and the Northwest Territories.
According to federal government data, an astounding 13.4 million hectares of land have been scorched this year, surpassing the previous record of 7.6 million hectares in 1989. This dramatic increase is significantly higher than the 10-year average of 2.2 million hectares per year, underscoring the urgency of addressing the growing threat of wildfires fueled by changing environmental conditions.