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Canada suffers from Zombie Fires and faces a threat of wildfires throughout the year

  • Posted on May 29, 2024
  • News

Climate change is enabling "zombie fires" that smolder underground all winter to spark massive wildfires across Canada's forests each spring, forcing evacuations and releasing ancient carbon.


Despite cold winters and snowfall, fires that somewhat resemble zombies cannot be put off in the Canadian territories. These persistent fires that rage year-round, smoldering below the frozen ground in peat and roots, are occurring more frequently because of global warming.

In a recent interview with Mike Flannigan, a wildfire expert at the Thompson Rivers University he said, “I have never witnessed such an outbreak of zombie fires. ”Already this year, hundreds of thousands of hectares in British Columbia have been burned, and many of them were burned during the winter.

The zombie fires can burn for a long time, sometimes for months, and only ignite in spring to feed on dry vegetation. One of these fires that stayed active during the winter season is now raging in Fort Nelson, British Columbia, and has extended to 700 square kilometers which has prompted evacuations.

It invades the muskeg and burns the muskeg and then it moves, it crawls beneath the ground and re-emerges elsewhere, said Marty Wells, a fire crew leader who saw the zombie fire all winter.

It has also been worsened by the effects of climate change as it leads to a rise in the number of fires and their severity. Some of these fires are severe in that they can burn peatlands and other organic soil so that the fires continue to burn through the winter when they would normally die out.

There are concerns that the zombie fires can transform forests into shrublands, release a lot of carbon stored in the peat, and elongate the fire season beyond its current duration. “As long as conditions are dry it will keep burning and burning,” said Flannigan.

The firefighters are often unable to put out the fires that may burn for months beneath the ground, and when in peat, may need up to billions of liters of water. People who live in this area are now confronted with the fact that they will never be able to breathe fresh air without the smell of wildfire.

This is why you don’t get to stop seeing the zombie fires smoke all spring, all winter: Doesn’t let you ever relax from that,” said Tyanna Steinwand who was evacuated last summer due to wildfires near her home.

Also Read: India frustrated by Trudeau's statements on Nijjar killing and believes there is an opportunity for separatists in Canada

As wildfire seasons are believed to increasingly become more destructive due to climate change across Canada, researchers suggest that the only way to prevent the rise of zombie fires is through emission reduction.

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