Canada wildfire prompts thousands to evacuate

Published May 13, 2024
This handout courtesy of the Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship, taken May 10, 2024, shows the aurora borealis lighting up the night sky as a wildfire burns near Fort Nelson, in British Columbia, Canada. — AFP
This handout courtesy of the Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship, taken May 10, 2024, shows the aurora borealis lighting up the night sky as a wildfire burns near Fort Nelson, in British Columbia, Canada. — AFP

TORONTO: The season’s first major wildfire continued to burn across Western Canada as firefighters tamed the fast-spreading blaze while authorities evacuated a town in British Columbia and advised residents of an oil hub in Alberta to prepare to leave.

Alberta said the wildfire was extreme and out of control, located 16 km (9.94 miles) southwest of Fort McMurray and spread across 1,992 hectares (4922.34 acres) of land, nearly double what was reported earlier.

In British Columbia, thousands of residents in Northern Rockies Regional Municipality and Fort Nelson First Nations were asked to evacuate as the blaze spread in size to 1,696 hectares.

Northern Rockies Regional Municipality Mayor Rob Fraser in a television interview said most of the 3,500 residents in and around Fort Nelson had been evacuated. Fraser said the fire was started by a tree blown down by strong winds falling onto a power line.

Five crews of wildland firefighters, nine helicopters and air tankers worked on the fire on Saturday with cooler temperatures in the evening expected to slow wildfire behaviour, said Alberta authorities.

Operations continued on Saturday night with night vision helicopters and heavy equipment. Evacuation alerts were in place for Fort McMurray, Saprae Creek Estates and expanded to Gregoire Lake Estates and Rickards Landing Industrial Park on Saturday.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2024

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