Confusion And Debate Arise From Popular Video Showing Helicopters Igniting Canadian Fires

By: Kate Row | Last updated: Oct 15, 2023

Currently, the state of New York is coated in smoke and debris. The air quality is horrendous and the skies look like a dystopian nightmare. This is because of the Canadian wildfires that started in late April in British Columbia and Alberta. The wildfires have devastated more than 8 million acres of Canadian land and displaced 30,000 people.

The Viral Video

These destructive fires have made their way to state borders and have impacted the air quality all across the east coast. What has the internet buzzing is this viral video of a helicopter spreading fires in Canada. It has everyone wondering, were these fires set purposefully?


Source: Instagram

On June 6th, this video shared on Instagram grabbed hold of the internet. (See the full video here.) The clip shows some of the first wildfires burning through British Columbia. In one clip, you can see a helicopter dropping fire onto a part of the forest that is not burning.


Were the Fires Started Intentionally?

The person filming the video states, “That’s how they started the fire. They set it up”. The text on the screen reads, “Helicopter Starting a Fire in Canada”. This sparked conversation on the internet. Is it possible that the fires had been started intentionally?


Source: Twitter & Wikimedia Commons

The post gained more than 14,000 likes the day it was posted and has only grown since then. Commenters had differing opinions on the matter. One person commented that all the fires started simultaneously so they must be planned. Another asked if there were government IDs on the choppers. So, were these fires started intentionally?

A Controlled Burn

In short, no. The video shows a fire control technique commonly known as back burning or planned ignition. Essentially, firefighters will strategically drop fire to burn the portion of land and then extinguish it.


Source: Wikimedia Commons

This burns up any combustible materials, leaving nothing left for the forest fire to burn. It stops the fire in its tracks and prevents it from spreading any further. This is one of many methods that the firefighters have deployed to slow and stop the spread of the destruction. You can see that the controlled burn takes place by a road. This is an attempt to slow the fire before it jumps across the street to burn more forest.

So, How Did the Fires Actually Start?

While there is no definitive answer as to what caused the forest fires to start in Canada, experts presume lightning could be the cause. In Canada, the hot weather causes lightning, which accounts for 85% of wildfire destruction in the area. This season has been particularly dry and hot as a result of climate change.


Source: Wikimedia Commons

Of course, it is possible that the fires were human-caused. Anything from a discarded cigarette to sparks from a train can cause a forest fire if the weather conditions are right.

Are The Fires Under Control?

The fires continue to burn in Canada. Firefighters are able to attack about 20-30 fires per day but there are hundreds burning across the country. France, the U.S., and other territories are sending firefighters and resources their way to help control the fires.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

As of June 8th, there are still over 200 fires that are considered “out of control”. While these are not the first forest fires Canada has had to tackle, they are some of the most destructive they’ve seen.


The Current Status

Public Security Minister François Bonnardel addressed the public on June 4th: “We took charge of 35 fires today, compared to 21 yesterday. We chose specific fires to protect our critical infrastructures, but above all to protect our population. All our resources are concentrated on these fires.”

Source: Wikipedia

Canada’s resources continue to work tirelessly to put an end to these fires.