Canada's Quebec battles wildfires as west faces evacuation

Canada's Quebec battles wildfires as west faces evacuation

Overdue rains and lower temperatures have given Quebec fire crews time to launch their attack on dozens of wildfires, but the reprieve for the west of the country comes as fires in the west have again forced residents to flee their homes.

It's an unprecedented wildfire season, with nearly 450 forest fires across the country on Sunday, 220 of which were burning out of control, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre.

In Quebec, firefighters are hoping to begin an attack on dozens of blazes that have been temporarily weakened by favourable weather.

We went from a reactive mode to an offensive mode, said Quebec's forestry minister Ma t Blanchette V zina.

As the mix of domestic and foreign firefighters and Canadian armed forces members battles the blazes, more than 14,000 residents remain under evacuation.

The 117 wildfires that have burned across Quebec show the unprecedented nature of the spring fire season, which has displaced tens of thousands and choked the air of more than 100 million people in eastern North America. For more than 300 times the average during the spring season, Quebec wildfires have scorched 740,000 hectares of boreal forest.

In the next few days, nearly 350 firefighters from the EU will join nearly 1,000 personnel already on the frontline. On Wednesday, nearly 100 firefighters from Spain and 140 from Portugal will arrive in Quebec City.

There is this solidarity, European Union Emergency Response Coordination Centre's liaison officer, Claire Kowalewski, told the Canadian Press. Today, however, Canada is facing these terrible fires. The year last year in Spain was also a terrible year. Despite progress in Quebec, Western Canada officials have watched as new blazes crop up and move dangerously close to populated areas.

On Friday, a nearby fire crossed fireguards and moved perilously close to the community, the town of Edson was evacuated for the second time this year.

We re in a little bit of a lull right now, but we do expect things to progress if the temperatures come up and the winds come up, so we re not out of the woods yet, said Wade Williams, the mayor of Edson.

Neighbours British Columbia are also grappling with new fires that have pushed residents from their homes. In the north-eastern pocket of the province, officials warned of immediate danger to life safety and ordered evacuations of the Peace River regional district and the Tumbler Ridge district.

The Donnie Creek fire has grown to more than 350,000 hectares in size and Broached containment lines constructed by fire crews.

A wildfire has thwarted access to Tofino, a popular beachfront community, in Vancouver Island, a region of province that usually experiences high levels of spring rainfall. The main highway that connects the communities has been shut down for over a week. With a temporary detour, the province has created a temporary route that adds four hours of travel and traverses forestry service roads.

This year, 4.8 million hectares have burned across Canada, a record-breaking start to a wildfire season.