Wildfires in Canada: State of emergency declared in Alberta

Status: 05/08/2023 09:43

According to authorities, more than 100 wildfires are currently raging in Canada, 33 of which are out of control. The province of Alberta has declared a state of emergency. Their Prime Minister spoke of an “unprecedented crisis”.

A state of emergency has been declared in the Canadian province of Alberta in response to numerous forest fires. This was announced by the province’s premier, Danielle Smith, on Twitter. All resources must be used to combat the “unprecedented crisis”, Smith warned.

Nearly 25,000 people brought to safety

According to the authorities, nearly 25,000 people had to leave their homes. The evacuated towns include Drayton Valley with about 7,000 residents, about 140 kilometers west of Edmonton, Alberta’s capital.

About 550 kilometers north of the provincial capital, a major fire destroyed 20 homes, a department store and a police station in the town of Fox Lake. Residents were brought to safety by boat and helicopter.

109 fires are active and spreading rapidly due to the heat and dryness, authorities said. 33 of them are out of control. Nearly 122,000 hectares of land have already burned, almost half the size of Saarland.

Dry and highly flammable vegetation

Alberta Wildfire’s Christie Tucker said fires this time of year have burned an average of about 2,000 acres in the past, according to broadcaster CBC. An easing of the situation is not in sight. Strong winds and high temperatures are expected to continue. Temperatures have been 10 to 15 degrees above normal for some time. This means that the vegetation is very dry and highly flammable.

Some fires cover only twelve hectares, others extend over thousands of hectares. High temperatures, wind and drought have favored the spread of the fires. One hectare equals 10,000 square meters.

According to a UN report, devastating wildfires will increase dramatically due to climate change.

More than 360 fires since January

Authorities say there have been more than 360 fires since January. This was an unusually high number of fires given that May had only just begun.

Alberta is one of the most important oil producing regions in the world. Fracking companies are monitoring the situation closely and have so far reported no production disruptions.

Government ready to provide aid if needed

Disaster Relief Secretary Bill Blair tweeted that the Ottawa government stands ready to provide federal assistance if needed.

Emily Bond

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