A Canadian firefighter has died fighting a wildfire in the western province of British Columbia, a local union said, as the country continues to grapple with record blazes.
In a statement, on Friday, the BC General Employees Union (BCGEU) said the firefighter died combatting a wildfire outside of Revelstoke on Thursday.
The union leadership said it could not identify the deceased by name.
Revelstoke is a town about 560km (347 miles) northeast of Vancouver.
“Our hearts and thoughts go out to her family and community in the BC Wildfire Service,” the union said.
Canada has faced a record start to the 2023 fire season, with massive wildfires.
Thisn has forced thousands to evacuate their homes in several parts of the country and sending thick plumes of smoke to the United States and Europe.
More than 900 fires are currently burning across the country, including 570 considered out of control.
British Columbia recently ordered new evacuations due to the blazes and requested the help of 1,000 more international firefighters.
About 2,000 firefighters are battling more than 350 fires across the province.
“It is very challenging across Canada. And across the globe right now to secure additional firefighting capacity,” BC Fire Department spokesman, Cliff Chapman, said on Thursday.
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“This is a very dangerous job. With the conditions, it makes it more dangerous for our staff, working 14-20 hours daily,” he said.
There are currently three wildfires burning within 48km (30 miles) of Revelstoke. Two of them are out of control, according to Canadian public broadcaster CBC.
With 22.2 million acres (nine million hectares) already gone up in smoke – 11 times the average for the last decade – the annual record set in 1989 has been surpassed.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed condolences to the BC firefighters’ loved ones and colleagues on Friday.
“We must never forget the risks these heroes take every time they run toward the danger,” he tweeted.
Last month, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety, Bill Blair, said the forecast for the summer months showed the potential for “higher-than-normal fire activity” in the country.
“The images we have seen so far this season are the most severely ever witnessed in Canada,” Blair said.
Several areas – including BC, Alberta and the Northwest Territories in the west, to Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the east – have battled wildfires over the past several weeks.
Experts pointed to climate change as worsening the size and scope of wildfires in Canada and around the world.
This is as high temperatures and other factors lead to earlier and more destructive fire seasons. (Aljazeera)
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