Montreal-Eastern Canada sweltered under a record-breaking heat wave on Thursday that risked inflaming wildfires ravaging the Atlantic coast and other parts of the country with “unprecedented” ferocity and scale. More than 210 fires were burning across Canada, including 82 out of control. And more than 2.7 million hectares have been scorched already this year, eight times more than the last three decades’ average, say officials. “These conditions this early in the season are unprecedented and of course they are deeply concerning,” Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair told a news conference in Ottawa. After major flareups in the west of the country in May, notably in the Prairies provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, firefighting shifted in the past week to Nova Scotia on the Atlantic coast -- which is unaccustomed to severe wildfires -- following hot, dry weather moving eastward. “It’s a simple fact that Canada’s experiencing the impacts of climate change, including more frequent and more extreme wildfires,” Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said, projecting the amount of forest burned by wildfires to double by 2050. In Nova Scotia, 16 fires were burning on Thursday. Two hundred homes have been destroyed and nearly 20,000 residents have been displaced. “The numbers are really breath-taking,” said Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston.
“Our province is experiencing tremendous trauma.” The Coast Guard and water bombers from neighboring provinces have been helping out, additional kit has been shipped in from Ontario, and firefighters from the United States and South Africa are en route.