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Industry & Trends

The Canadian Forest Wildfires of 2023 Could Be Coming Back

They had a devastating impact on both air quality and lumber supplies last year and now they seem poised to return this summer.

Depending on where you live in North America, out-of-control wildfires in a number of Canadian forests created serious air quality issues last year but for the lumber industry, it was the devastation of timber that created real supply problems as well.

Now some experts are saying those problems are about to return as we head into the summer of 2024.

A particularly warm and dry winter throughout much of Canada may have allowed those fires to keep burning and with summer conditions returning so too might the fires. “We don’t get out of wildfire season like we have historically,” Rob de Pruis, director of consumer and industry relations at the Insurance Bureau of Canada said in a recently published report. “They’re a real and present danger, and wildfires are happening right now.”

Some are calling these “zombie fires” that never really went out and escaped the usual heavy snowfall that would have naturally extinguished them. Reports say British Columbia had 90 such fires while in the province of Alberta, there were 64 fires carried over from last year. This is reported to be more than ten times the five-year average.

Last year’s fires were reported to have burned an area more than seven times the historic average, or about 4 percent of all Canadian forests, causing an estimated $740 million in insurance damages. This year more than two-thirds of Canada is experiencing abnormally dry or drought conditions and Alberta has already declared a start to its wildfire season in February, the earliest in many years. Other Canadian provinces could follow suit.

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