June 7, 2023

La Ronge Northerner

Complete Canadian News World

More than 29,000 people have been evacuated from communities across Alberta as wildfires rage in Canada

(CNN) more than 100 Wildfires are raging across the Alberta region of Canada It forced more than 29,000 people to flee in what officials described as an “unprecedented situation” for the province.

In the past 24 hours alone, 16 new fires have started in Alberta, Kristi Tucker, chief of the Wildfire Information Unit, said during a news conference Sunday night.

Firefighters across the province are battling 108 active wildfires, 31 of which are “out of control,” Tucker said.

That kind of vicious wildfire activity isn’t typical this early in the year, Tucker said Sunday morning, and firefighters don’t usually see such a large area burning.

Bone-drying conditions, abnormally hot weather and high winds have combined to fuel this “already intense wildfire activity,” Tucker said.

“We could be kind of settled for a long fight here,” she said.

Bushfires have burned a total of 375,000 hectares, or about 926,000 acres, in Alberta so far this year, Tucker said, and recent fires have also burned “an enormous amount of land” over the past few days.

Firefighters and additional resources are heading to Alberta from across the country to fight the growing blazes, Tucker said, and crews have already arrived from Quebec and Ontario to join the fight.

Some gains were made on Sunday as sporadic rains across the county helped firefighters reach areas they were previously unable to due to intense wildfire behaviour.

Tucker said firefighters are now hoping the cooler temperatures and higher humidity will help them fight the flames in the southern and central part of the province — but difficult conditions remain in the northern part of the province.

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“In the north, it’s still very dry. We’re still seeing winds and we expect these types of conditions to continue that can lead to severe wildfires,” she told a news conference Sunday night.

Communities in Alberta have seen some blistering temperatures this past week, with the capital, Edmonton, hitting a high of 31 degrees Celsius, about 88 degrees Fahrenheit, on Wednesday and Thursday — more than 10 degrees above average, according to Climate Canada. services.

The area has also seen a lack of precipitation that may have contributed to the intense fire conditions in Alberta, said CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford, drying out the ground and making it more difficult to contain the fires.

Tucker said crews facing “rapidly changing wildfires across the region” will continue to focus their efforts on fires that threaten communities.

Meanwhile, many hospitals have been completely evacuated and many roads closed in northern and central Alberta, according to provincial officials.

So far, about 5,000 people have sought refuge in evacuation centres, Alberta Chief of Emergency Management Colin Blair said at a news conference Sunday.

A piece of forest smoke burned in the area near Edson, Alberta, on Saturday.

It is not yet clear the extent of the damage

As thousands of Albertans flee their homes and head to evacuation centers, they are leaving not knowing if they will have a home to return to when evacuation orders are lifted.

told Rick Labukan, who grew up in the Fox Lake community CNN affiliate CTV that his family home will not be there when the community returns.

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“My whole family side there, our little side of our village over there on North Fox Lake, it’s been completely wiped out,” Lapucan said. “The homes of family and friends are over.”

A wildfire out of control has burned more than 16,300 hectares of land, about 40,200 acres, as of Sunday in the community of Fox Lake, authorities He said.

Blair said it was still not clear the extent of the damage caused by the fires as thick smoke and intense fire conditions prevented crews from making a full assessment of the property losses.

“We know the structures have been lost, but our number one priority is to protect lives and deal with emergency response first and foremost,” Blair said.

Authorities said officials already know dozens of buildings have been damaged, including in the Fox Lake area, where 56 firefighters with heavy equipment and aircraft are battling the blaze.

Many were also ordered to flee in Yellowhead County, where 8,000 people were ordered to evacuate immediately. Another 3,600 were ordered to evacuate from the Little Red River Cree Nation.

Another out-of-control wildfire dubbed EWF-031 has burned about 77,920 hectares, about 192,500 acres, as it rages southeast of the city of Edson in Yellowhead County, according to the California State Department. Alberta fire officials.

It is an “unprecedented situation our province faces,” said Danielle Smith, Premier of Alberta.

“We’ve had a lot of fires, and they’ve spread wildly and that’s because we’ve had unprecedented conditions this spring… It’s been an unusual year,” Tucker said.

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CNN’s Amy Simonson contributed to this report.