More than 400 wildfires are burning throughout Canada, causing mass evacuations, fire damage and smoky conditions throughout the country.
The fires, ranging from 233 “out of control” wildfires to 114 “under control” blazes, are unprecedented, even for the typical Canadian wildfire season.
Unlike previous seasons, this wildfire season was off to an extremely dry and hot start as droughts have hit provinces like Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. According to the Canada Drought Monitor, nearly all 10 provinces have experienced abnormal dryness.
Additionally, the effects of the climate crisis have created a vicious cycle: increasing global temperatures due to emissions from burning fossil fuels lead to larger and more frequent wildfires but the emissions from the fires add to global heating further drying land.
So far, more than 9.2m acres of land have been burned and, more is likely to come.
“We are already seeing one of the worst wildfire seasons on record,” Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, said in a statement. “We must prepare for a long summer.”
Here’s where the wildfires are burning in Canada now.
The province of Quebec, which includes the city of Montreal, has more than 149 active fires, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC).
By far, the region has more active fires than any other province.
Large amounts of smoke have been pouring into the eastern U.S. from fires in Quebec. The wildfire smoke is degrading the quality of surface-level air that tens of millions of people breathe.
Several NASA satellites are collecting data on the plumes: https://t.co/r2NhDht0Cq pic.twitter.com/kT7UUrZu7z
— NASA (@NASA) June 8, 2023
According to CIFFC, Alberta has the second-highest number of wildfires with 79 active as of Thursday 8 June.
British Columbia, the province which contains the city of Vancouver has 65 active wildfires.
There are 57 fires in Ontario, the province which includes the Canadian capital, Ottawa, and the city of Toronto.
Take a closer look at this Wildfire map from Natural Resources Canada.
The circles are actives fires. Colour patches indicate danger zones with red being highest risk. Fires have begun in Ontario/ Quebec. Extreme heat/ dry weather expected to continue through June. pic.twitter.com/rr0IJR5ayl
— Judy Trinh (@judyatrinh) June 1, 2023
The province of Saskatchewan has 27 active wildfires, according to CIFFC.
Other provinces like Nova Scotia, New Brunswick Manitoba, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island have active wildfires, though less than 20 as of Thursday.
Approximately half of the wildfires are thought to have been started by lightning while the other half are human-caused. Many of the wildfires in Quebec are believed to have been started by lightning.
Many of the wildfires in Quebec are believed to have been started by lightning. But combined with the effects of climate change, it is becoming more clear to people that more proactive work will need to be done to prevent outrageous wildfires.
“The threat of increased fires due to climate change is one of the many reasons our government is developing a robust National Adaptation Strategy with all levels of government and Indigenous groups, so we can be sure our communities are well prepared for the impacts of climate change,” Mr Guilbeault said.