Written by 20:18 World

Wildfire Nears Canada’s Largest Oil-Producing Area, Forcing Thousands to Evacuate

A wildfire near Canada’s largest oil producing region prompted the evacuation of about 6,600 people from Fort McMurray, Alberta. Several thousand other residents of the city were told to prepared to leave at any moment.

The evacuation on Tuesday has evoked fearful memories of a major fire in 2016 that destroyed roughly 2,400 homes and businesses, forced 90,000 people to flee and became the most expensive natural disaster in Canadian history.

“I know that this will bring back difficult memories from the devastating fires of 2016,” Danielle Smith, the premier of Alberta, said during a news conference on Wednesday. “And I’m sure these memories will create fear and uncertainty.”

The start of wildfire season in Canada follows a record setting year in 2023 when about 45 million acres of forest burned, a huge increase from the annual average of 6.1 million.

Unusually large fires spanned the country last year from Nova Scotia on the Atlantic coast to British Columbia on the Pacific. Choking smoke from fires in Quebec filled the skies of Eastern Canada and filtering down and degrading air quality down the eastern seaboard of the United States.

At the season’s peak in mid July there were 29 mega-fires, which the government defines as those extending over more than 100,000 hectares, or about 247,000 acres.


Last modified: 17 May 2024