OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's government is sending the military to the Eastern province of Nova Scotia on Thursday to help tackle wildfires, and more U.S. firefighters will come to battle the early summer blazes, the minister responsible for emergencies said.
Nova Scotia is battling two large fires that are threatening communities on the outskirts of Halifax, the provincial capital. At the same time, the western province of Alberta has 61 wildfires, 16 of them out of control, officials said.
While Canada often sees wildfires in the summer, rarely has it seen so many so early, with incidents on both the East Coast and in the West at the same time. There are 211 wildfires burning across Canada, and 82 of those are out of control, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said.
"These conditions this early in the season are unprecedented," Blair told reporters. "Due to climate change, similar extreme weather events may continue to increase in both frequency and severity across our country."
Some 28,000 Canadians have been forced to flee their homes, officials said. Some 18,000 of the evacuees are in Nova Scotia, which is forecast to remain hot and dry on Thursday. There are wildfires burning in seven of Canada's 10 provinces.
The Canadian Armed Forces will provide both equipment and personnel to relieve firefighters "who have been working tirelessly around the clock to protect communities right across Nova Scotia," Blair said.
Earlier this month, the federal government sent the military to Alberta to help battle blazes there.
Canada is also receiving help from other countries. Some 800 firefighters have come from the United States, mostly to Alberta, with another 100 scheduled to arrive in Nova Scotia over the next five days, officials said.
Australia and New Zealand have sent some 224 firefighters, and South Africa is sending more than 200 in coming days, officials said.
(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Sharon Singleton)