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Rare forest fires explode in size in Canada’s Newfoundland

Rare forest fires explode in size in Canada’s Newfoundland
The Paradise Lake fire, near the town of Grand Falls-Windsor, has grown by more than 50 per cent from Monday

Forest fires have grown overnight in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador as government officials called a state of emergency.

The Paradise Lake fire, near the town of Grand Falls-Windsor, has grown by more than 50 per cent from 16,344 to 25,543 acres, fire officials said. The fire is equivalent in size to Florida’s Disneyworld.

The fire has been too erratic for crews to fight directly so instead the blaze was being attacked by water-bombing planes. It is hoped that rain forecast for Tuesday will assist firefighting efforts.

A second fire is burning near the Bay d’Espoir Highway, an isolated stretch of road through the middle of the province. It has increased in size by 10 per cent to 14,151 acres.

Big wildfires are uncommon in the eastern Canada province. The sparsely-populated region has varied climates and weather in part due to its position in the Atlantic Ocean. Northern Labrador, for example, is polar tundra while southern Labrador has a subarctic climate. However, like many parts of the world this summer, dry conditions and high temperatures have made made forested areas more prone to fire.

Public officials in the province declared a state of emergency over the weekend for Botwood, a town in north-central Newfoundland, according to a statement from John Hogan, Minister of Justice and Public Safety.

The declaration was made out of precaution due to a deterioration in air quality in the area, although there was no immediate fire hazard to homes or residents.

As fire and smoky conditions continue, residents were being encouraged to see a health care provider if they experienced new or concerning symptoms related to heat or smoke.

The province also issued an immediate ban on setting fires on forestland or within 300metres of forestland. This included unauthorized burning, including campfires and brush burning.

Ministers from the province are set to hold a news conference on the emergency situation on Tuesday afternoon.