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Monday, July 22, 2024

US to provide Canada satellite data for countering wildfires

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Washington: President Joe Biden ordered the Pentagon to provide Canada with technical assistance and satellite data for detecting and suppressing wildfires, White House National Security Council Spokesperson Adam Hodge said in a statement.

“President Biden directed the Department of Defense to provide technology support that enables Canada to more rapidly identify and suppress new fires. This technology can provide early warning of emerging wildfires in remote wilderness areas so that the fires can be stopped before they spread and burn out of control,” Hodge said on Friday. “Starting today, DOD personnel will analyze and share real time data derived from US satellites and sensors.”

Wildfires in Canada have already burnt 5.3 million hectares of forest land in recent weeks, an area three times the size of Lake Ontario, according to the country’s emergency ministry, which has led to tens of thousands of evacuations.

On Thursday, Emergency Preparedness chief Bill Blair said there were 458 active wildfires across Canada, 235 of which were deemed to be out of control.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault said the yearly average burnt during wildfire seasons in the past decade stood at 2.7 million, whereas the current number is nearly double. The dry temperatures expected for the rest of the summer could create conditions for more wildfires, Guilbeault added.

The wildfire smoke has drifted across the continent and throughout the US, which has forced several cities and states to issue air quality warnings.

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