How did the wildfires start in Canada?

6 minute read Published on Apr 24, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

Aerial view of damage caused by a wildfire.

Over the past decade, hot summer temperatures have become increasingly noticeable across Canada. And despite forest management and other wildfire prevention efforts, this fire risk is becoming more pressing due to rapid climate change. Stick around to learn more about what causes Canadian wildfires and how you can protect your home against the threat of fires with the insurance experts from BrokerLink.

What causes Canada's wildfires?

There are numerous factors that contribute to fires across Canada, leading to hazy skies, poor air quality, millions of hectares burnt, and other damages. The causes of fires include natural events and human carelessness:

Climate change and sudden intense storms

Climate change plays a massive role in the increase of fires in Canada. With hot spring temperatures, significantly warm temperatures in the summer, and extreme drought, the warming planet makes weather conditions more prone to intense storms that can create high winds and other conditions that make it easier for fires to start and spread quickly to a million hectares or more. These high winds can also lead to large amounts of tree falls, which make for the perfect fuel for forest fires.


Many of Canada's wildfires are sparked by lightning strikes, notably in regions with many remote areas and vegetation, such as the west coast’s mountain range. A sudden burst of lightning in the right conditions can spark dry trees and vegetation, creating the perfect opportunity for fires to start and quickly expand.

Human-caused fires

Human-caused fires are another main cause of wildfires in Canada. This involves starting small fires at campsites or in the woods that get out of hand, backyard fire pits, throwing cigarettes out carelessly, sparks from outdoor equipment and machines, and, worst of all, deliberate arson.

Forest management controlled fires

The way forests are managed can cause fire risks. For example, fallen branches, dead trees, and dense sections of vegetation can all make fire conditions worse if they are not properly managed. Controlled burns performed by the Canadian Forestry Centre of management are used to reduce this risk but cause a risk of getting out of hand if the conditions are right.

The local terrain in the area

The type of terrain across Atlantic Canada, Northern Alberta, Northwestern Ontario, eastern Quebec, and the west coast may be different. However, if the vegetation is not maintained properly and has lots of underbrush, it can lead to a fire risk, especially as climate change worsens.

How to protect my home from Canada's wildfires?

To ensure your home is protected against the threat of wildfires, learning fire safety, including fireplace safety is incredibly important. Here are some safety tips you can implement in your home to protect yourself against the risks of fires:

Develop an emergency plan

Have an emergency plan and a go-bag ready in case you need to evacuate on a moment's notice. Your emergency plan should include a route you'll take in order to get out of the area as quickly and safely as possible and emergency contact information. In your bag, consider packing things like extra clothes, hygiene products, and food, water, important documents, a first aid kit, and other belongings you need.

Perform regular maintenance on your lawn

Make sure that you keep your lawn and gardens as clean as possible. By removing dead or dehydrated plants, you can prevent the fire from spreading too close to your homes and gardens. Look for the best types of fire prevention tips and install them on your property, for example, dig up grass near your property and replace it with crushed rocks which will stop any fire approaching your home. Opt for fire retardant siding or roofing, this way in the event that a spark does hit your home, there is less chance of it manifesting a structure fire.

Teach your family about fire safety

Everyone loves a campfire in the middle of summer. However, being irresponsible or simply unaware of the risks can lead to you or your family members unintentionally starting a wildfire. Take note of local burn bans, some are updated daily or weekly, and if you're going to have a fire in your backyard, be sure that you have a water source and a fire extinguisher on hand just in case.

With these tips, and with the right insurance you can ensure that your family and home are protected against the risk of wildfires. Remember when it's fire season, it's important that you stay up to date on local fire bans and report any suspicious activity in your area.

Does my home insurance cover damage from fires?

Most home insurance policies do cover damage caused by fire, including wildfires. But, it's important that you review your specific policy and speak with your insurance provider to get a better understanding of what is or isn't included under your insurance. Policies you should consider include:

Dwelling coverage

This is the part of your home insurance that covers the actual structure of your home. It usually includes coverage for fire-related damage, which means if your home is damaged or destroyed by a wildfire in your area, any costs associated with rebuilding or replacing your home would be covered under your insurance policy.

Contents coverage

This aspect of your insurance policy covers all the personal belongings inside your home. If your items, devices, and other belongings are damaged or lost in the fire, you should have compensation for these items to be repaired or replaced. Just make sure that you understand what items are and aren't included under this policy. Interested in learning if your homeowners insurance provides coverage against wildfires? Contact a broker from BrokerLink today for help.

Is British Columbia more at risk during fire season than other provinces?

Yes, British Columbia is known to have a higher wildfire risk compared to many other Canadian provinces, due largely to its climate conditions, its large mountain ranges, and forests. The province's recorded history indicates that since 2010, the risk of fires has increased substantially.

Contact BrokerLink for high-quality insurance solutions for protection against future wildfires

Homeowners insurance can give you peace of mind knowing your home and property are protected against fires, especially in areas where battling blazes is becoming more frequent.To ensure you protect your investment and interests against Canadian wildfires, speak with an experienced broker from BrokerLink about the options available to you. Interested in saving on your coverage? Ask us how bundling home and auto policies can do just that! Contact us over the phone if you prefer to speak with someone directly, or get a free, customized quote from the comfort of your home using our online quote tool.


Wildland fires FAQs

When is fire season in Canada?

Generally speaking, the wildfire season in Canada begins in May as temperatures across the country begin to increase, however wildfire season can start as early as March in the right conditions. In the past, fire seasons have ended around the end of August. However, because of climate change and long range forecasts of extreme hot weather, Canadian wildfires can continue into October.

While Canada's east coast experiences active wildfires during this period, western Canada, especially British Columbia, is known to produce hotter, more intense fires. That said, because of the climate crisis, this doesn't mean that Canadian wildfires won't get worse, and become more prevalent across Atlantic Canada, which is why ensuring you have comprehensive home insurance coverage is critical.

What should I do if I discover a fire outdoors?

If you happen to come across fire activity or unsuspected wildfire smoke while you are out in nature or one that is close to vegetation, immediately call local authorities for assistance. Some provinces have allocated phone lines and apps where you can report wildfires in Canada.

However, it depends on what province the fire is located in. Beyond calling for assistance, it's important that you don't approach the fire as it can put you at risk of injuries.

When was Canada's worst wildfire season?

Extreme heat, severe drought, and excess dry vegetation in 2023 produced Canada's worst and most damaging, out-of-control fires in history. And because of climate change, Canada's fires are likely to get worse in the future, creating longer fire seasons and more intense fires that are difficult to contain.

Does my condo insurance cover fire damage?

If you live in a condo, you may be wondering, "does condo insurance cover damage?" and to put it simply, yes, it does. For example, if your unit is damaged due to a fire, dwelling coverage typically covers the costs of repairs and replacements.

In terms of your personal belongings that may get damaged in the fire, you may need a separate policy, which typically is referred to as contents insurance. You may want to confirm with your insurance company how much of your items are covered and whether fires are an insured event based on the unique terms and conditions of your policy.

What is the Canadian Forest Service?

The Canadian Forest Service is a branch of the federal government of Canada. It helps create policies and strategies to help fight active wildfires, combat climate change, and protect natural resources across the country through research and active initiatives.

If you have any questions, contact one of our local branches.