Monday 13 May 2024 - 21:05

Western Canada Blazes Cause Evacuations, Air Quality Concerns

Story Code : 1134864
Western Canada Blazes Cause Evacuations, Air Quality Concerns
In British Columbia, thousands of residents in Northern Rockies Regional Municipality and Fort Nelson First Nations were evacuated as the nearby blaze nearly doubled to 4,136 hectares, Reuters reported.

Northern Rockies Regional Municipality Mayor Rob Fraser in a TV interview said most of the 3,500 residents in and around Fort Nelson had been evacuated.

Fort Nelson First Nation, seven kilometers from the town, also issued an evacuation order for Fontas, an Indigenous community.

Across the border in Alberta, residents of Fort McMurray, an oil hub which suffered extensive damage from wildfires in 2016, were asked to prepare to leave.

However, by the end of the day, favorable weather helped by a shower forecast tamed fire growth at Fort McMurray. Authorities said they expected fire activity to remain low with more showers expected on Monday.

Alberta continued to stress the two wildfires were extreme and out of control and recorded 43 active fires, including one located 16km southwest of Fort McMurray. By Sunday, authorities revised the area affected by fire to 6,579 hectares, much larger than what was reported on Friday.

Fraser said the fire was started by a tree blown down by strong winds falling onto a power line.

Six crews of wildland firefighters, 13 helicopters and airtankers were taming the fire on Sunday, said Alberta authorities.

Evacuation alerts were in place for Fort McMurray, Saprae Creek Estates and expanded to Gregoire Lake Estates and Rickards Landing Industrial Park.

Although there is no immediate risk to these communities, the alert ensures residents are prepared to evacuate if conditions change.

Smoke in Fort McMurray on Saturday was coming from fires in northern British Columbia, Alberta said.

Environment Canada issued a special air quality statement that extends from British Columbia to Ontario on Sunday.

Last year, a veil of smoke blanketed the US East Coast, tinging the skies a fluorescent orange as smoke reached parts of Europe as hundreds of forest fires burnt millions of acres of land and forced about 120,000 people to leave their homes.

The federal government has warned Canada faces another “catastrophic” wildfire season as it forecast higher-than-normal spring and summer temperatures across much of the country, boosted by El Nino weather conditions.

Canada experienced one of its warmest winters with low to non-existent snow in many areas, raising fears ahead of a hot summer triggering blazes in forests and wildlands amid an ongoing drought.