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A climatologist says the wildfires that have been burning for more than two weeks in central Newfoundland could be a sign of what’s to come as the province feels the impacts of climate change.

Joel Finnis, an associate professor at Memorial University in St. John’s, N.L., said in an interview that as temperatures increase in the province, periods of rain will likely become more intense but less frequent, with longer dry spells in between.

Jeff Motty, the province’s forest fire duty officer, said in an interview the fires were triggered by lightning strikes on July 24 during a prolonged period of drought conditions in central Newfoundland.

As of this morning, the two largest fires near Grand Falls-Windsor and the Bay-d’Espoir highway covered a combined area of more than 228 square kilometres.

Motty said crews may soon be able to contain the fires if weather conditions stay favourable.

Finnis says the fires are a reminder that significant and difficult action is needed to ward off the devastating impacts of climate change.

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