A woman firefighter in western Canada has died combating a wildfire. The infernos have ravaged the country for weeks. This is the first firefighter death on the ground since the start of the fire season. More than 900 fires are burning and 570 are out of control.
According to the British Columbia General Employees Union, the woman died outside the town of Revelstoke in British Columbia.
“It is with heavy hearts that our union mourns the loss of one of our BCGEU family,” it said.
The province’s fire agency said “the individual was injured while responding to a wildfire” without elaborating.
Canada PM Justin Trudeau said the news was “heartbreaking”. He thanked Canadian firefighters for their courage.
“We must never forget the risks these heroes take every time they run toward the danger,” Trudeau tweeted.
The news from British Columbia – that one of the firefighters bravely battling wildfires has lost her life – is heartbreaking. At this incredibly difficult time, I’m sending my deepest condolences to her family, her friends, and her fellow firefighters.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) July 14, 2023
Fresh evacuations were ordered in British Columbia recently due to blazes. The province requested the help of 1000 more international firefighters.
“It is very, very challenging across Canada and across the globe right now to secure additional firefighting capacity,” BC Fire Department spokesman Cliff Chapman said Thursday.
“This is a very dangerous job,” he went on. “With the conditions we are in, it makes it all that much more dangerous for our staff who are working 14, 16, 20-hour days.”
Sarah Budd with the British Columbia Wildfire Service said the weather will remain hot and dry for the foreseeable future.
“We’re not expecting any reprieve from the weather,” Budd said.
Wildfires have already burnt nine million hectares so far. This is 11 times the average for the last decade. The annual record set in 1989 has been surpassed.
What is unusual for Canada is that both sides of the country are burning at the same time.
This time, some provinces which are unaccustomed to fire have also been affected. This includes Quebec. Here, more than a million hectares have burned.
Canada is warming faster that the rest of the planet due to its geography. The country has been confronted with extreme weather events whose intensity as well as frequency gave increased. Climate Change is being said to be the reason.
Smoke from the fires has fouled the air in Canada and neighboring United States, affecting more than 100 million people, at times disrupting flights and forcing the cancellation of outdoor events.
(With inputs from agencies)
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