Western Canada blazes cause evacuation orders, air quality concerns

May 13, 2024

Ottawa [Canada], may 13: The season's first major wildfires have spread to roughly 8,000 hectares across Western Canada as authorities issued an evacuation order for a community in British Columbia and warned of poor air quality across provinces.
In British Columbia, thousands of residents in Northern Rockies Regional Municipality and Fort Nelson First Nations were evacuated as the nearby blaze spread to 2,483 hectares.
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 (4.35 miles) 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 in that faced extensive damage from wildfires in 2016, were asked to prepare to leave.
Alberta said two wildfires were extreme and out of control, including one located 16 km southwest of Fort McMurray. It grew significantly over the weekend to 5,500 hectares, much larger than what was reported on Friday.
On Sunday, authorities said the fire had subdued but was expected to increase as the temperatures soar.
Winds from the southeast are expected to push the wildfire away from a major highway and toward the Athabasca River.
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.
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.
Source: Fijian Broadcasting Corporation

More news

Nine more bodies found off southern Italy after migrant boat wreck

Rome [Italy], June 21: Nine more bodies have been found off the coast of Italy after a migrant boat carrying several dozen people capsized in the Mediterranean. The Italian coastguard pulled them out of the water about 100 kilometres from the mainland, authorities said on Thursday. This brings the number of confirmed fatalities to 17. It is feared that more than 40 bodies are still in the sea. The ship had set off from Turkey but capsized off the coast of the southern Italian region of Calabria on Monday night. Only 11 people were rescued. The survivors were picked up by a merchant ship when the boat was already half sunk. They were brought to the harbour of the Calabrian town of Roccella Ionica. The Interior Ministry in Rome has counted more than 23,000 people who reached Italy on boats this year. In the same period last year, the figure was almost 56,000. (dpa)

Jun 21, 2024