Unprecedented Wildfire Crisis in Alberta: Over 100 Wildfires Burning and Thousands Forced to Evacuate

The province of Alberta in western Canada is currently facing an unprecedented wildfire crisis, with more than 100 wildfires burning and over 24,000 residents forced to evacuate their homes. As of 7 p.m. on Saturday, 32 of the fires were out of control, 22 were being held, and 56 were under control, according to Alberta Wildfire. The fires have also prompted the Alberta government to declare a provincial state of emergency.[0] The hot, dry spring has turned much of the landscape to kindling, making it easy for the fires to start and spread quickly.[1] The wildfires have destroyed buildings, including 20 homes, a store, and a local RCMP station in the Fox Lake area.[2]

The situation has prompted the province to seek help from partners in the United States and the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre. Alberta has also requested assistance from Montana and additional firefighters from Ontario and Quebec.[3] As the fires continue to rage, evacuation orders remain in place, and residents are urged to register online at emergencyregistration.alberta.ca.

The unprecedented wildfire crisis in Alberta is a stark reminder of how unpredictable and powerful wildfires can be, said Stephen Lacroix, managing director of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency. As our climate changes, experts warn that the frequency and intensity of wildfires will increase, with studies showing that human-caused climate change is a significant driver behind increased wildfire risk.[4] The Alberta government has assured that it has the right tools, technology, and resources to tackle the challenge, and evacuated residents will receive the necessary supports.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, along with Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, visited wildfire evacuees at the Edmonton Expo Centre on Sunday morning.[5] The state of emergency declaration also provides the provincial government with a higher level of intergovernmental co-ordination by working with municipalities, organizations, and businesses to support evacuated residents.[6] However, ongoing smoke and fire conditions make it difficult to assess property loss, limiting the details that can be provided, said Colin Blair, executive director of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency.[5]

The current wildfire crisis in Alberta underscores the urgent need for climate action to address the root cause of the intensifying wildfire risk.[7] As the world continues to grapple with the climate crisis, it is imperative that governments and individuals take necessary steps to mitigate its impacts and build resilience to its effects.

0. “Notley offers wildfire insight to Smith as some provincial campaigns are suspended” Calgary Herald, 7 May. 2023, https://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/notley-offers-insight-to-smith-on-leading-alberta-through-wildfire-evacuations

1. “Almost 25000 people in Western Canada evacuated as wildfires rage across region amid hot weather and high winds” KAKE, 6 May. 2023, https://www.kake.com/story/48862437/almost-25000-people-in-western-canada-evacuated-as-wildfires-rage-across-region-amid-hot-weather-and-high-winds

2. “More than 24,000 people evacuated in western Canada as 103 wildfires burn” NBC News, 6 May. 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/13000-people-evacuated-western-canada-92-wildfires-burn-rcna83203

3. “Alberta officials hoping cooler weather and showers slow wildfires” The Globe and Mail, 7 May. 2023, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-alberta-officials-hoping-cooler-weather-and-showers-slow-wildfires-2/

4. “Western Canada wildfires: Alberta declares emergency as 29,000 evacuate” Axios, 8 May. 2023, https://www.axios.com/2023/05/08/canada-wildfires-evacuations-alberta-british-columbia

5. “Close to 30,000 people now displaced as Alberta continues battling wildfires” CBC.ca, 7 May. 2023, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-wildfires-environment-weather-extreme-1.6835352

6. “Alberta declares state of emergency as wildfires rage” Global News, 6 May. 2023, https://globalnews.ca/news/9679627/alberta-premier-adresses-wildfire-state-of-emergency

7. “Almost 25,000 people in Western Canada evacuated as wildfires rage across region amid hot weather and high winds” KRDO, 6 May. 2023, https://krdo.com/cnn-weather-environment/2023/05/05/more-than-13000-people-in-western-canada-evacuated-as-wildfires-rage-across-region-amid-hot-weather-and-high-winds/

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