A British Columbia firefighter died in the field Thursday while responding to one of the megafires that have ravaged the country for weeks, his union announced overnight Thursday into Friday.
• Read more: This wildfire season is now Canada’s worst on record
It was the first fatality on the ground since the start of Canada’s historic season, where more than 900 fires are currently active and more than 570 are out of control.
“Our union mourns the loss of a member of our family who lost his life today fighting a wildfire outside Revelstoke,” the BCGEU union said in a statement.
In the country, the number of fires continues to increase, especially in Western Canada, where several hundred explosions have been recorded in some days, fueled by thunderstorms.
British Columbia, which recently ordered new evacuations, has requested the assistance of an additional 1,000 international firefighters.
But “acquiring additional firefighting capabilities is very difficult,” BC Fire Department spokesman Cliff Chapman said Thursday.
“This is a very dangerous job. The conditions we are seeing make the work even more dangerous for our employees who are working 14, 16, 20 hours a day, trying to do everything to keep these fires away from strategic areas,” he added.
The country already has 9.6 million hectares under smog – 11 times more than the average for the last decade – already higher than the absolute annual record since 1989.
Unusually for Canada this year both sides of the country are burning at the same time. Some provinces that are not used to fire are also affected. Forest fires in northern Quebec have burned more than a million hectares.
Canada, which is warming faster than the rest of the planet due to its geographic location, has experienced extreme weather events in recent years, the intensity and frequency of which has been increased by climate change.
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