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Military called in to help battle Canada wildfires

The Canadian Armed Forces have been called in to help respond to dozens of wildfires in western Canada following a deadly heatwave affecting parts of the country and the western US. According to the British Columbia Wildfire Service, there are 196 active wildfires burning across the province alone following the Pacific Northwest‘s record heat wave. At least 40 of the fires began in the last two days, according to the service’s wildfire database, with the incidents forcing residents in parts of British Columbia to evacuate their homes.

Temperatures soared to as high 47 C in Lytton, a village in British Columbia, on Monday, setting a new record in Canada. Video of parts of the village engulfed in flames went viral online, as the area became the hottest spot in the country for three consecutive days. In a tweet on Sunday, the country’s defence minister, Harjit Sajjan, said: “British Columbia: Our @CanadianForces are deploying air support to help British Columbians as they fight wildfires.

We’ll always be there for Canadians in their time of need.” On Friday, Mr Sajjan said additional resources, including 350 military personnel, would be dispatched to a tactical base in Edmonton, Alberta to aid in firefighting efforts. “We knew from previous experience that air assets were needed,” he said, according to Global News. “The women and men of the Canadian Forces have experience battling wildfires throughout the country and will use those lessons to assist as needed.”

The federal government has said the army will help transport “personnel, supplies and equipment into and out of areas affected by fires” and aid in any future emergency evacuations.

Earlier on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had met with the country’s federal incident response group to discuss the wildfires and federal aid to BC. The group also discussed how Canada can plan ahead for future extreme weather events, with the country on guard for potential future heatwaves this summer. The recent heatwave has been linked to hundreds of death across western Canada and the US.

Meteorologists say it was caused by a “heat dome” that is now making its way east towards Alberta and Saskatchewan, where record-breaking temperatures have already been recorded.