Canada deploys military to combat wildfires ravaging British Columbia


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Sunday that the country will be deploying its military forces to combat the rapidly spreading wildfires in British Columbia. With nearly 400 fires wreaking havoc in the western province, the situation has prompted the evacuation of over 35,000 residents.

Having declared a state of emergency on Friday, British Columbia took measures such as imposing travel restrictions to ensure accommodations are available for both evacuees and firefighters. The authorities also urged individuals, including drone operators and media personnel, to steer clear of rescue efforts to avoid hampering the response.

Speaking on social media platform X, Trudeau confirmed that the federal government will provide aid through the Canadian military to assist in evacuation procedures, staging operations, and logistical support, as requested by the British Columbia government.

Canada is grappling with an unprecedented wildfire season, marked by more than 200 fires raging in the neighboring Northwest Territories. The air quality index (AQI) in some British Columbia cities has surged above 350, an alarming “hazardous” level according to IQAir, an air quality monitoring service.

Jason Brolund, West Kelowna’s fire chief, expressed cautious optimism after a relentless four-day battle against the raging fires. He cited improved conditions that allowed firefighters to make significant progress by engaging on-site operations and dousing flames threatening the town’s 150,000 residents.

While forest fires are not uncommon in Canada, the current scale of destruction underscores the severity of this year’s wildfire season, attributed by some experts to climate change. The dire situation has also triggered fires near the United States border and within the US Pacific Northwest.

“Across the border in Washington state, firefighters grappled with the Gray Fire and Oregon Road Fire, collectively consuming over 20,000 acres of forest and destroying more than 100 structures”.

With government officials urging immediate evacuation in affected areas, the fires have claimed the lives of at least four firefighters. As buildings and landscapes succumb to the inferno, the total count of destruction remains uncertain.

“Despite the chaos, the Canadian government-owned Trans Mountain pipeline and its expansion project remain unscathed by the fires, as confirmed by a company spokesperson. The section of the pipeline expansion closest to the fires, the Coquihalla stretch, is southwest of Kamloops”.

“Exhausted local resources have necessitated federal government intervention, drawing support not only domestically but also from 13 international countries. As the fires continue to scorch approximately 140,000 square kilometers (54,054 square miles) of land—equivalent to the size of New York state—the smoky haze has extended as far as the US East Coast. Officials foresee the fire season extending into autumn due to the prevailing drought conditions”.

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