Canada could be on track for a “record” level of land burned due to an “unprecedented” wildfire season this year, government officials warn.
As of Wednesday, 414 wildfires were burning in Canada with 239 out of control, keeping 20,183 Canadians out of their homes, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said. So far this year, 2,293 wildfires have torched 3.8 million hectares of land.
The wildfires have left a trail of destruction across Canada, and their effects have been felt far beyond the impacted communities with smoke blanketing much of the nation.
Global News is committed to continuing extensive local and national coverage of the wildfires, their impacts on Canadian communities, and how the fires and spreading smoke fit into the broader conversations around protecting your health and coping with climate change.
Here is a look at the current status of Canada’s wildfires.
The fires are blazing primarily in northern Ontario, with a few in communities outside of Ottawa and Sault Ste. Marie.
According to the wildfire agency, of the 34 fires, 22 are not yet under control, six are being held, one is being observed, and five are under control.
Though the fires blaze in those regions, their smoke has led to special air quality statements for much of the province, forcing school boards in the Toronto area to move recess indoors temporarily.
The agency reported that so far this year, 443 wildfires have burned 637,970.9 hectares of land in the province.
Premier François Legault has said the province is in a “difficult situation” and the wildfires forced more than 10,000 people to leave their homes.
The Canadian Armed Forces are assisting the province’s firefighters while more than 250 firefighters from Canada, the United States and France are expected to arrive this week.
The province, which is coming off a May 28 wildfire that burned down roughly 200 buildings near Halifax and forced more than 16,400 people to evacuate, is coming together to rebuild with several relief efforts planned.
Currently, there is a provincewide ban on open fires, and the fine has been increased to $25,000 for breaking it.
So far, the province has 130 firefighters deployed, including more than 40 volunteer and municipal firefighters.
Alberta’s provincial state of emergency ended on June 3 after being in place for nearly a month due to hundreds of forest fires burning in the province.
The government reported 609 wildfires have occurred in the province so far this year; tens of thousands of Albertans have been impacted by the blazes.
Mike Ellis, who was Alberta’s minister of public safety and emergency services prior to the May 29 election, said the decision to end the state of emergency was made because the wildfire situation across the province “improved significantly.”
In British Columbia, 82 wildfires were burning as of Thursday morning, the provincial wildfire agency indicated on its website.
Campfire bans are slated to take effect for much of the province on Thursday with more hot, dry weather in the forecast after an unseasonably dry May.
As of Tuesday, B.C.’s fire danger rating had climbed to high or extreme for most of the province.
The province is also in the grips of what Global BC senior meteorologist Kristi Gordon called a “mini heat wave” with unreasonably high temperatures forecast across southern B.C. this week.
Eleven wildfires were burning in the Northwest Territories as of Wednesday night, the territory said on its website.
No new fires broke out in the past 24 hours, it said, adding 21 fires have burned in the region this year with 403,815 hectares affected.
Four fires were burning in New Brunswick on Thursday, the province said.
According to the government, 177 wildfires have burned so far this year, surpassing the previous year’s total of 143.