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Canada’s Alberta announces state of emergency over wildfires | Climate Crisis News


Almost all of Alberta and much of the neighboring province of Saskatchewan face serious fire hazards.

Alberta declared a state of emergency as wildfires raged across the Canadian province, forcing 25,000 people to flee their homes in what a top official said was an “unprecedented” crisis.

Thousands more have been told to prepare to evacuate immediately, as the number of fires – driven by strong winds – has risen to 110.

A third of the fires listed were out of control.

“We have declared a provincial emergency to protect the safety, health and well-being of Albertans,” Premier Danielle Smith said at a news conference Saturday after the commission’s meeting. government emergency management board.

Earlier, she said the province – one of the world’s largest oil-producing regions – “has been through a hot, dry spring and with so much fuel it only takes a few sparks to ignite.” some forest fires are really scary.”

“These conditions have led to the unprecedented situation our province is facing today,” she said.

According to Smith, more than 20 communities have been evacuated and at least 122,000 hectares (301,000 acres) have burned to date.

The state of emergency, she said, gives the Alberta government “greater power to respond to extreme situations”, including mobilizing additional resources and releasing emergency funds. .

A column of smoke rises from the WWF023 wildfire near Fox Creek, Alberta, Canada
About 110 fires are active, 33 of which are listed as out of control [Alberta Wildfire/Handout via Reuters]

According to the federal government’s fire hazard map, nearly all of Alberta – with an election underway – and much of the neighboring province of Saskatchewan as well as a large swath of the Northwest Territories are at risk. serious fire.

Federal Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair tweeted that Ottawa stands ready to provide federal assistance if needed.

Oil sands mining facilities closely monitor for hazards, but there have been no reports of production disruptions.

Drayton Valley, with 7,000 residents — about 140 kilometers (87 miles) west of Edmonton — was among the communities evacuated as firefighters battled the out-of-control blaze.

About 550km (342 miles) north of the provincial capital, a devastating fire destroyed 20 homes, a general store and a police station in the Fox Lake community.

Residents were evacuated by boat and helicopter.

In the town of Edson, which has a population of more than 8,000, residents have also been ordered to “evacuate immediately”.

In recent years, extreme weather has hit western Canada several times, increasing in intensity and frequency as a result of global warming.

Wildfires in Canada’s oil sands in 2016 disrupted manufacturing and forced 100,000 residents out of Fort McMurray, taking a heavy toll on the national economy.

More recently in 2021, British Columbia’s westernmost province suffered record-high summer temperatures that killed more than 500 people, as well as wildfires that consumed entire towns.

This was followed by devastating floods and landslides.

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