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Canada wildfires spread east, forcing evacuations in coastal Quebec

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Aerial view of the wildfire in Shelburne County, Nova Scotia, Canada in this social media handout image released May 31, 2023. (Photo by Nova Scotia Government/Handout via Reuters)

Nearly 10,000 residents in Canada’s coastal Quebec province have been forced to evacuate their homes as massive wildfires that began in the country’s west coast rapidly spread eastward.

Mayor Steeve Beaupré of a coastal Quebec City of Sept-Iles declared a state of emergency on Friday as wildfire risks led to expansion of evacuation orders in the region.

“We do not want people to put themselves in danger,” said Beaupré. “We want to preserve our population.”

Late Friday, Public Security Minister François Bonnardel took to Twitter to ask Ottawa for Canadian Armed Forces assistance to deal with the forest fires in Quebec.

Canadian troops have been stationed in western Canada since early May, and were also deployed to Nova Scotia on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have rushed hundreds of firefighters to Canada to tackle the huge wildfires.

Federal Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair has declared that more than 2.7 million hectares have been scorched so far across the country -- equal to more than five million football fields -- as 214 fires are continuing to burn, out of which 93 remain out of control.

“Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia – they are all experiencing interface wildfires,” Blair said. “The situation remains severe across the country.”

Throughout Canada, around 30,000 people have been displaced due to wildfires, which have reached almost every Canadian province.

In western Canada, wildfires are common, but the eastern province of Nova Scotia is facing unprecedented amounts of fire within its region.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, meanwhile, has pledged to provide federal assistance to impacted provinces.

“This is a scary time for a lot of people from coast to coast,” he told reporters on Friday. “We will continue to be there to support in whatever ways we can.”

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