'Out of control' wildfires lead to mass evacuation in Alberta, Canada
Firefighters are still fighting more than 100 active wildfires across the Alberta region of Canada that forced over 29,000 people to evacuate in what officials have called an "unprecedented situation," CNN reports.
As of Sunday evening, emergency personnel were battling 108 active wildfires, 31 of which were considered "out of control," per Christie Tucker, a spokesperson for Alberta's wildfire agency. "That's significantly more wildfire activity, for this time of year, than we've certainly seen anytime in the recent past," Tucker told reporters on Friday. Sweltering weather, dry conditions, and strong winds have combined to cause the "really extreme wildfire activity," Tucker said. Wildfires have damaged 375,000 hectares, about 926,000 acres, in Alberta this year. These recent fires have burned a "huge amount of ground" over the weekend, Tucker said.
In recent years, the western Canadian region "has been hit repeatedly by extreme weather," CBS News writes. In 2016, forest fires in Canada's oil sands region "disrupted production and forced out 100,000 residents from Fort McMurray," the outlet continues, "pummeling the nation's economy." Record-high temperatures in the neighboring province of British Columbia over the summer of 2021 killed over 500 people and caused wildfires that "destroyed an entire town."
The United States National Weather Service had also warned in a forecast that similar warm, dry, and windy conditions in the Southwest and the Southern Plains were "expected to create weather conducive to wildfires over the weekend," per The New York Times. "Wildfires are increasing in size and intensity in the Western United States, and wildfire seasons are growing longer." Recent research suggests that "heat and dryness associated with global warming are major reasons for the increase in bigger and stronger fires," the Times explains. While wildfires are typically attributed to the West Coast, data shows active fires burning in some Midwestern states and other arid regions.