Growing wildfires across Western Canada are forcing from their homes – Canada News

Growing wildfires across Western Canada are forcing from their homes – Canada News
Growing wildfires across Western Canada are forcing from their homes – Canada News

Photo: James Cardinal Jr.

Wildfire smoke over Fort McMurray, Alta. on May 14, 2024.

Wildfires have forced thousands out of several communities in Western Canada.

In Fort Nelson, BC, about 4,700 people are out of their homes. Roughly 6,600 residents have been evacuated out of parts of Fort McMurray, Alta., while the rest of the city remains on evacuation alert. And a fire near Cranberry Portage, Man., has forced out about 500 residents.

Here are the latest developments:

UPDATE: 10:25 a.m.

Jody Butz, the fire chief for the Fort McMurray region, says those who have been told to leave evacuated neighborhoods may not be able to return until Tuesday.

He says it could even be longer.

He says about 6,600 people have left, and 650 have registered with evacuation centers in other communities.

Butz says crews have installed sprinklers in two neighborhoods to beef up fire defenses.


UPDATE 10:05 am

The BC Wildfire Service says conditions remain unseasonably warm and dry throughout much of the province, raising the risk of fires sparking and spreading.

It says there’s potential for gusty winds to fan aggressive fire behavior in the north later in the day, including the Fort Nelson area, where an 84 square-kilometer blaze is burning just outside the town.

The service says most spring wildfires are typically caused by human activity.

It says everyone must do their part to avoid sparking a blaze.


UPDATE 10 a.m.

A public information meeting is set to take place this afternoon for evacuees from the Fort Nelson area in northeastern BC, as a wildfire burns just outside the town.

The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality says the meeting is to take place at the North Peace Arena in Fort St. John.

Fort Nelson, a community of about 4,700, has been under an evacuation order since Friday.

Mayor Rob Fraser urged residents not to return to their homes, after the RCMP had to relocate a safety checkpoint outside the community.

Fraser says emergency crews need to focus on their work rather than looking out for residents heading back into harm’s way. (edited)


ORIGINAL 9:55 a.m.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says her heart goes out to Fort McMurray residents who have had to leave their homes eight years after a blaze known as The Beast devastated parts of the city.

However, Smith says the evacuation order affecting about 6,000 residents is necessary for public safety.

Forestry and Parks Minister Todd Loewen says bans on fires and off-road vehicles are in place for the area.

He says fierce winds are responsible for pushing the fire close to the city.


UPDATE 9:40 a.m.

The BC Wildfire Service says fires this year have already burned through more than 23,000 square kilometers.

That’s already enough to place 2024 in the middle of the rankings for the total amounts burned in entire years since 2008.

A record 284,000 square kilometers of land was scorched last year.

The wildfire service says there are 128 active wildfires in the province, including 15 that are burning out of control.


UPDATE 9:25 a.m.

Several energy companies say the wildfire threatening Fort McMurray, Alta., is not posing a risk to operations.

Suncor Energy, MEG Energy and Cenovus Energy say they are monitoring their operations.

Suncor spokesperson Leithan Slade says some employees and contractors are affected with the partial evacuation of Fort McMurray, and their safety is a top priority.


UPDATE 9 a.m.

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo says crews worked until 3 am dropping water on the fire near Fort McMurray, Alta., which has grown to 210 square kilometers in size.

It says crews are also building a containment line near the city’s landfill.

The regional municipality says a small amount of rain last night is expected to have little impact on the fire.

A reception center for evacuees has opened in Edmonton.


ORIGINAL 6 a.m.

Thousands of people in Western Canada remain displaced from their homes as wildfires threaten their communities, triggering evacuation orders and alerts.

In British Columbia, a widening area around the northeastern community of Fort Nelson is under evacuation, with the Parker Lake wildfire burning close by and the larger Patry Creek wildfire raging to the northwest.

Both fires are listed with the BC Wildfire Service as “wildfires of note,” with Parker Lake measuring 84 square kilometers in size and the Patry Creek fire covering a whopping 464 square kilometers.

In Alberta, a 209-square-kilometer fire has chased more than 6,600 residents of southern Fort McMurray from their homes.

In 2016, a similar wildfire destroyed much of the oilsands community and its recovery took years.

And just north of Cranberry Portage, Man., an out-of-control wildfire measuring 316 square kilometers has forced the area’s roughly 500-plus locals to flee their homes.

The shifting conditions of the fires in northeastern BC forced the RCMP to relocate one of their safety checkpoints outside of Fort Nelson.

Mayor Rob Fraser issued a plea for residents not to attempt returning to their homes during the Mounties’ absence.

He says emergency crews need to focus on fighting the fires and not watching out for people trying to head home when it is not yet safe.

For those working to defend the community from the fire, Structure Protection Branch director Keving Delgarno says crews were able to work until about midnight, not until dawn, as has been the case lately.

“The fire behavior’s settled down, and hasn’t been as aggressive.”

He says the forecast for the region is continuing to look favorable, which will further aid in their efforts.

While the nearby Parker Lake wildfire is the fire that triggered the evacuation of the Fort Nelson area, fire behavior specialist Ben Boghean says the Patry Creek fire, some 25 kilometers north of the community, grew substantially earlier this week, fanned by high winds.

He notes that, currently, it does not pose the same danger, but that could rapidly change with a return of strong winds and drier conditions.

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