2011-05-21

Massive Canadian fires linked with beetles, climate change

Wildfires in Canada have burned 909 percent more than the average number of acres this year, mainly due to a number of blazes in northern Alberta that have been described as “freakish firestorms” by forestry officials.

Some scientists in Canada are conjecturing that the unusually large fires are linked with global warming and the pine beetle infestation that has spread through millions of acres of boreal forests.

According to the Canadian Forest Service‘s latest wildfire update, about 490,000 acres have burned, with 980 fires burning this week, well above the average number. More than half the fire burning are in Alberta; in most other parts of Canada the fire activity is described as light.
Fire danger remains low in British Columbia due to moist conditions, but is rated as high across big parts of Alberta, where a province-wide fire ban is in effect. With little precipitation in the forecast, the fire danger is expected to increase in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.