Firefighters from U.S., South Africa to battle Canada's 'unprecedented' fires

International fire help

More than 300 firefighters from the United States and South Africa are heading to Canada in the coming days as the country battles an unprecedented wildfire season.

Federal officials told a briefing today that at least 100 U.S. firefighters will be arriving in Nova Scotia over the weekend to help knock down out-of-control wildfires that have forced about 21,000 people from their homes since Sunday.

Another 200 firefighters arriving from South Africa will likely end up in Alberta, though officials say the wildfire situation in the country is fluid.

The latest arrival of international firefighters will be joining hundreds of their colleagues from countries including the United States, Australia and New Zealand who were already in Canada battling fires.

Officials say the number of fires so far this year is roughly on par with 10-year averages, but the amount of land devoured by those fires — approximately 27,000 square kilometres and counting — is “unprecedented.”

Ottawa says it last night approved the Nova Scotia government's desperate plea for help, and the Canadian Armed Forces is preparing to provide extensive support, including help with logistics and resources to fight fires and hot spots.

Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says it is a “simple fact” that Canada is seeing the impacts of climate change, which include more frequent and more extreme wildfires.

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