As widespread drought raises expectations for a repeat of last year’s ferocious wildfire season, response teams across Canada are grappling with the rapidly changing face of fire in a warming climate.

No longer quenched by winter, nor quelled by the relative cool of night, last summer’s wildfires burned an unprecedented 18.5 million hectares of land—more than seven times the historic average.

Canada’s warmest ever winter followed, with low to non-existent snowpack in many areas, and ongoing drought raising fears that this summer will see more of Canada’s forests and wildland urban interface go up in flames.

“The dry and historically warm winter we just experienced across Canada puts the country in a bad spot heading into wildfire season over the weeks and months ahead,” The Weather Network reported in March.

In April, Canada’s Drought Monitor found much of western Canada, swathes of the Northwest Territories, central Ontario, and much of northeastern Quebec and Labrador in moderate to severe drought conditions. Meanwhile, British Columbia and Alberta are experiencing extreme and “exceptional” drought in pockets. B.C.’s scant snowpack after spring snow was at 63% of normal levels in early April, with conditions in some regions far worse, reports CBC News.

What happens next depends upon how spring progresses.

While B.C.’s south coast and interior did receive much-needed rain this past weekend and snow at higher elevations, The Weather Network predicted that any precipitation would “fall far short of what we need to meaningfully put a dent in the drought.”

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