Over 13,000 people evacuated in Alberta as 78 fires rage, causing 20 homes and a police station to be consumed by the 1,458-hectare Fox Lake fire, hitting the Little Red River Cree Nation.
Wildfire EWF031 near Lodgepole, Alberta, Canada on May 4, 2023, generates a smoke column. (Photo: Reuters)
Record hot weather in western Canada has led to thousands of evacuations due to raging wildfires in parts of Alberta, while rapid snow melt has caused flooding across interior British Columbia.
Over 13,000 people were evacuated in Alberta as 78 fires burned, with the Little Red River Cree Nation among the worst-hit areas. The 1,458-hectare Fox Lake fire destroyed 20 homes and a police station.
Drayton Valley’s entire 7,000 population was also ordered to evacuate. Pembina Pipeline Corp has activated emergency response and incident management processes to assess any operational impacts.
Alberta has experienced 348 wildfires and more than 25,000 hectares burned this year, according to Christie Tucker, a manager for Alberta Wildfire’s information unit.
At a press conference, Tucker noted that the level of wildfire activity was significantly higher than in recent years, and that fires were expected to intensify on Friday.
She also warned that extreme wildfire behaviour was expected due to hotter and windier conditions. Firefighters were said to be prepared for what could be a very challenging day.
British Columbia has experienced rivers bursting their banks, flooding homes and causing highway closures in various communities, such as Cache Creek and Grand Forks.
The province had previously been experiencing a cold spring until unseasonably high temperatures, 10-15 C above the May average in some areas, led to fires and flooding.
The British Columbia government warned of more flooding to come over the weekend due to heavy rain, with warm temperatures accelerating snowmelt and putting more pressure on rivers and creeks.
The Ministry of Emergency Management stated that the situation was expected to worsen as rainfall and thundershowers were forecast for May 5th and May 6th, increasing the likelihood of flooding.