Dry weather and high temperatures cause extreme forest fires in various places around the world. In Canada, the army was standby on Saturday to help cities and villages evacuate and fight over 170 forest fires fueled by a record-breaking heat wave. The Canadian government warned that the country is facing a “long and challenging summer”.
At least 177 fires raged in the western province of British Columbia, 76 of which in the last two days, officials said. Most of it was caused by lightning strikes during intense thunderstorms, which were the result of the scorching heat of last week.
In Edmonton, the military is setting up an operating center, the Department of Defense reported, with up to 350 soldiers who will provide logistical support to the region. Military aircraft are also being deployed. About a thousand people have fled the forest fires in British Columbia, many others are still missing.
Further south, the U.S. states of Washington and Oregon have also experienced record temperatures. Three forest fires in the drought-ravaged north of California scorched nearly 16,200 hectares of land. Evacuation orders are in place around Lake Shasta, a tourist attraction. About forty buildings were destroyed by the fires.
The direct reason for the heat is a persistent high-pressure area that retains warm air along the west coast of North America. However, according to the Austrian Central Institute of Meteorology and Geodynamics, climate change is the underlying cause of record temperatures. Worldwide, the decade to 2019 was the warmest ever recorded, climate.gov figured, and the five hottest years ever occurred after 2012.
Two weeks ago, giant forest fires were visible from space in Siberia, as satellite imagery showed. It was 15 degrees hotter than usual in June on average. In Norway, wildfires south of Lillehammer were uncontrollable by the fire brigade on Saturday.
Closer to home, in France, forest fires threatened the densely populated Massif de la Clape, near Narbonne. In the municipality of Sankt Egyden am Steinfeld in eastern Austria, hundreds of firefighters fought a huge forest fire. Also on the Greek island of Kefalonia, large forest and nature fires raged on Saturday. Several villages had to be evacuated. The fire broke out after a ten-day heat wave and prolonged drought.