It has been a scary week for Alberta as a number of out of control wildfire are burning. Due to the northern Alberta wildfires, thousands have evacuated towns as the fire danger is expected to increase this week.
According to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, the number of wildfires burning across the province is “slightly higher than the five-year average.” Since March 1, 2019, there have alread been 430 wildfires in Alberta. Six of these fires have been classified as out of control.
As of now, Alberta is rated at the highest possible danger level for wildfires. With the dry temperatures and wind, dangerous conditions are only expected to increase.
In a public statement issued today on May 21, 2019, Kenney stated that Alberta wildfire crews are fighting a significant wildfire in northern Alberta in the region of High Level, Mackenzie County, and the Dene Tha’ First Nation.
Due to the increasing danger, a number of mandatory evacuation orders have been put in place. An evacuation order is currently in place for the town of High Level including areas south and southeast of the town. There is also one effective for areas south of the Bush River Reserve and a voluntary evacuation in place for the areas north of town.
The Dene Tha’ First Nation also declared a state of emergency for Bush River Reverse, with evacuations currently underway.
Residents are being told to be prepared to be away from home for at least 72 hours. So far, more than 4,000 people living in northern Alberta have been evacuated without incident.
Kenney stated that in terms of the fire intensity scale from 1 to 6, the current fire situation is sitting at a 6, “meaning that the fire is jumping from crown to crown of trees.”
Although an ongoing threat to safety, at this time, no homes have been damaged. There are also no known injuries or deaths.
Helicopter and water bombers are currently being used for the operation. Alberta Wildfire has 89 firefighters, heavy equipment, and air support assigned to this wildfire.
Over the next 48 hours, crews from Ontario, Nova Scotia and British Columbia will join Alberta firefighters. “These resources are very much appreciated,” said Kenney. “We would be proud to return the favour in the future.”
Although crews are helping to fight the blaze, Mayer, Assistant Deputy Minister with Alberta Environment, said that it is unlikely that people will be put “in front of the head” as it is too dangerous.
Kenney also reminded the public to follow fire bans and to not throw any cigarettes out of vehicles. He said that officials believe that most of the fires are caused by human activity.
Due to Alberta’s dry and windy conditions for the next foreseeable future, the fire is only expected to worsen.
In a video posted on Kenney’s public Facebook page, it was stated that wildfires this time of year are typical after the snow and winter runoff is gone and precipitation is limited.
He also stated that due to Alberta’s dry and windy conditions for the next foreseeable future, the fire is only expected to worsen.
“Fire season is a long and tough battle every year and we need to be prepared for the long haul this summer,” said Kenney.
According to Environment Canada, weather for the rest of the week in Edmonton will be sunny with highs in the 20s. No precipitation is in the forecast for the next foreseeable future. With a wildfire burning just 730 km north of the city, spreading poses a huge risk.
Dicsliamer: The cover image is for illustrative purposes only.