Canada’s main oil-producing province of Alberta is bracing for another hot and dry weekend, with warnings of more intense wildfires after a week of volatile weather forced thousands to evacuate homes and shuttered energy production.
Special alerts have been declared across western Canada, where officials have urged vigilance as temperatures in some areas are forecast to hit 30° Celsius (86°F), or 10 to 15 degrees more than usual.
“We are expecting hot and dry conditions in most of the province, which will make the wildfire danger climb,” Alberta Wildfire official Josee St-Onge told a briefing on Friday.
“We’re likely to see more intense wildfire activity this weekend and into early next week.”
More than 100 wildfires over the past 1-1/2 weeks forced about 30,000 people to leave home at one point, while oil and gas producers had to shut in at least 319,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), or 3.7% of national production.
Recent cooling and rain helped firefighters tackle some blazes and restored most of the energy production, but expectations of rising weekend temperatures have fanned concerns of more production cuts and evacuations.
By Friday afternoon, 74 fires were burning across Alberta, 20 considered to be out of control, with about 16,500 evacuees.
“We remain in an extremely volatile situation and the risk of new wildfires remains significant in much of the province,” said Colin Blair, executive director of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency.
“It will take much more than a few scattered showers to change the wildfire situation,” Blair said at the briefing.
The Canadian army is helping with firefighting and recovery efforts in the province, where a state of emergency has been called since last Saturday.
More than 200 soldiers were deployed after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government approved a request for federal assistance on Thursday, with about 100 more expected to join them over the weekend.
The wildfires have also caused major disruptions to transportation and tourism. The Trans-Canada Highway, one of the main arteries linking Canada’s east and west coasts, was closed for several days due to a blaze in the Rocky Mountains.
The wildfires have also had a significant impact on the environment. Smoke from the fires has blanketed parts of Alberta and neighboring provinces, and air quality has been poor in many areas.
The Alberta government has said it will need to assess the full cost of the wildfires once they are under control.
Impact on the environment:
The wildfires in Alberta have had a significant impact on the environment. Smoke from the fires has blanketed parts of Alberta and neighboring provinces, and air quality has been poor in many areas. The smoke has also caused health problems for people, including respiratory problems and eye irritation.
The wildfires have also destroyed forests and wildlife habitat. In some areas, entire forests have been burned to the ground, and many animals have been killed or displaced. The full environmental impact of the wildfires is still being assessed, but it is clear that they will have a lasting impact on the region.
Impact on the economy:
The wildfires in Alberta have also had a significant impact on the economy. The fires have forced the closure of businesses, schools, and roads, and they have disrupted transportation and tourism. The fires have also caused damage to homes and infrastructure, and they have led to the loss of jobs.
The full economic impact of the wildfires is still being assessed, but it is clear that they will have a significant cost. The Alberta government has said that it will need to provide financial assistance to individuals and businesses that have been affected by the wildfires.
What can be done to prevent future wildfires?
The wildfires in Alberta are a reminder of the growing threat of climate change. As the planet warms, wildfires are becoming more frequent and more intense. This is a serious challenge for Alberta and for Canada, and it is a challenge that we must address together.