The western province of Canada declared a state of emergency on Tuesday due to the progression of the fire, which is expected to increase further in the days to come due to heat and winds.
“We have reached a critical point,” Mike Farnworth, British Columbia’s public security minister, said during a press briefing.
“Based on the advice of those responsible for managing emergencies and forest fires and worsening weather conditions, I declare a provincial state of emergency,” he added.
The decision, which enables the provision of mass evacuation of the inhabitants of the region and which provides the Government with funds for the accommodation of the evacuees, the Minister further specified.
An evacuation order in the province on Tuesday targeted more than 5,700 people, more than double the previous day, and more than 32,000 people under evacuation warning, with no obligation due to the fire.
“Please prepare an evacuation plan for your family,” asked Cliff Chapman, chief of fire operations in British Columbia, who said 3,000 square miles of land had already gone up in smoke. According to him, it is already three times higher than the average in the last ten years.
The region has nearly 300 active forest fires, and hot, dry weather will continue with more winds in the coming days, especially in the interior and southwest of the province on the border with the United States. There are currently more than 3,180 firefighters and staff working in the province.
These fires ravaged western Canada for weeks after an episode of very strong heat in late June, the result of global warming by experts.
Across the border, 83 large fires are ravaging the United States, some so dangerous that firefighters compare them to “monsters”.
“Bootleg Fire” in Oregon is by far the most impressive. Already larger than the city of Los Angeles, it continues to grow, spurred by winds and severe drought.
Even New York, on the other side of the country, was covered in a gray haze that tasted of fire smoke on Tuesday, prompting the city to issue an air quality warning.
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” assured Rob Allen, in charge of fire management in the area. About 2,250 firefighters take turns day and night to try to put out the blaze. “We will be there as long as it takes for this monster to be safe,” he promised.