Spencer Decorby using a firehose tries to protect his father's cabin from the massive fire near Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is providing pumps and hoses to cottage owners, but no personnel as they are stretched to the limit.
Photo Credit: Kyle Bauhous-Spencer Decorby

NWT: Worst forest fire season in decades


In the Northwest territories (NWT), the wildfire season continues to get worse.

A massive fire approaches the east arm of Great Slave Lake on Saturday. Meteorolgists say they do not see much rain in the forecasts for the next two months. © Jason Pienau- Twitter

Already earlier listed as the worst season for fires in memory, it’s now estimated to be costing the territorial government a million dollars a day to fight the fires.

“What we are seeing in the Northwest Territories this year is an indicator of what to expect with climate change,” says Mike Flannigan, a professor of Wildland Fire in the University of Alberta’s renewable resources department. “Expect more fires, larger fires, more intense fires.”

Two million hectares burn each year, double that of the 1970s

According to the Canadian interagency forest fire Centre ( CIFFC) there have been 31 new fires in the past 24 hours across Canada, over 2,500 so far this year and well over a million hectares burned to date, early in the season.

While the NWT and BC are battling dozens of fires, fires are also burning in several other provinces. A fire near Banff in Alberta has grown to 7,000 hectares, although it is listed as “contained”. There are seven major blzzes in that province with one listed as out-of-control. © CBC

According to Flannigan, in recent years, about 8,000 fires burn about two million hectares of land each year in Canada — but he says, that’s about double the annual average of just 40 years ago

Canada’s senior climatologist, Dave Phillips, says the southern NWT is experiencing the hottest driest summer in some 50 years.

The extremely hot dry weather in the interior and north of British Columbia is now contributing to the spread of a number of fires in that west coast province.

Phillips adds the kind of weather seen this year is what global warming modeling predicted for 40 years from now.

Although there are major fire concerns in the west and north, the prairies, especially Saskatchewan and Manitoba are still recovering from highly unusual major summer floods.   Unusually heavy rainfall has caused abnormally high levels of flooding in several areas of Canada this year. Earlier, many parts of Quebec experienced flooding when heavy rain overcame storm sewers and caused rivers to overflow their banks.

In Canada’s maritime provinces, many are still without power a week after tropical storm Arthur swept through uprooting trees, tearing roofs, and downing power lines

Posted in Economy, Environment

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