Canada's Newfoundland declares state of emergency as wildfires rage

Canada's Newfoundland declares state of emergency as wildfires rage

Officials in Canada's easternmost province have issued a state of emergency as crews battle the worst wildfires the region has experienced in more than half a century.

Over the last two weeks, a series of blazes have consumed thousands of hectares of forest in Newfoundland and Labrador and remain out of control.

Things have changed over the last 36 hours, Premier Andrew Furey told reporters on Sunday. We are afraid that there will be a significant smoke impact, and we can't wait for the last minute to act, because this is a dynamic situation. Furey said his government issued a state of emergency not to create panic but to make sure the province was able to manage the rapidly changing situation.

Fires have been burning in central Newfoundland for close to two weeks, aided by strong winds. The large wildfires in the Atlantic province are estimated to be more than 6,500 hectares, 16,062 acres and the Bay d Espoir fire is more than 5,000 hectares 12,355 acres. A summer of dry, intense heat has left its forests vulnerable to immense and fast-moving blazes.

Craig Coady, Department of Natural Resources incident commander, told reporters that crews had witnessed extreme fire behavior in recent days that worried officials.

We expect that to continue for the next few days and possibly for the next few days. This is due to the high winds and low humidity. Coady said heavy smoke was complicating efforts at combating the blazes.

He said that if the water bombers can't see ahead of the fire and it's too smoky, it is not safe for them to operate. He added that poor air quality was also the biggest problem for residents nearby.

The province has not yet ordered any evacuations, but officials say they are prepared to order residents to leave any communities at risk. Bill Blair, the federal emergency preparedness minister, said that Canadian military personnel would be deployed to help with evacuation efforts.

The province expanded its outdoor fire ban, which prohibits the setting of fires on or within 300 metres of forestland. The move is necessary to reduce the chance that a new fire is caused by negligence or accident.

Last night, I saw two people throwing cigarette butts, and I thought that was absolutely crazy, Derrick Bragg, fisheries, forestry and agriculture minister, told reporters. That is reckless and we do not need it.