Officials are stating the Alberta region of Canada is enduring an “unprecedented situation” as more than 29,000 individuals were forced to flee their homes due to the spreading of more than 100 wildfires.
Within the past 24 hours, 16 new fires have started in Alberta, according to Wildfire Information Unit Lead Christie Tucker.
Firefighters around the province are currently battling 108 active wildfires, according to Tucker, 31 of those wildfires were burning “out of control.”
This wildfire activity is quite uncommon for this early summer season, and firefighters aren’t used to seeing such a large mass of land burned. Bone-dry environmental conditions and abnormally hot weather, combined with high winds are said to be the biggest contributor to the “really extreme wildfire activity.”
This year, so far, wildfires in Alberta have burned a total of 375,000 hectares of land, about 926,000 acres; a majority of which has occurred within the last few days.
Tucker also stated that additional firefighters and resources are currently heading to Alberta from across the country to assist the battle against the wildfires. Scattered showers on Sunday helped calm some of the blazes and tame some of the fires that were in difficult to reach places.
Firefighters are now hoping that the cooler temperature and higher humidity brought on by the rain will help them as they fight the fires.
“Up north, it’s still very dry. We’re still seeing winds and we are expecting a continuation of those kinds of conditions that can lead to extreme wildfire behavior,” Tucker said at a news conference.
“Communities in Alberta have seen some extremely hot temperatures in the past week, with the capital city of Edmonton hitting 31 degrees Celsius, about 88 degrees Fahrenheit, on Wednesday and Thursday – more than 10 degrees above average,” according to the Canada Centre for Climate Services.
“The region has also seen a lack of precipitation which may have contributed to the extreme fire conditions in Alberta, drying out land and making fires more difficult to contain,” CNN Meteorologist Robert Shackelford said.
“So far, about 5,000 people have sought refuge at evacuation centers, “Alberta Emergency Management chief Colin Blair said.
Multiple hospitals have been fully evacuated and many roads in north and central Alberta, where a hefty amount of the fires are currently, have been closed.
“We have so many fires, so spread out and it’s because we’ve seen unprecedented conditions this spring. … It’s been an unusual year,” Tucker said.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.