Western Canada has moved into spring in 2016 after experiencing a dry and mild winter. While the parkas got little wear this winter, it has led to some dangerous conditions heading into summer.
The boreal forest near the oil town of Fort McMurray has several fires on the go with one about 750 hectares threatening some of the outlying dwellings. Some areas are on voluntary evacuation but two trailer parks are under a mandatory evacuation. About 700 people have been displaced.
Some schools suspended classes today.
Authorities have advised people in the town to remain indoors to avoid the heavy smoke and ash fall that is polluting the air. Those with respiratory difficulties are advised to evacuate to an area with better air quality.
Smoke has hampered the helicopters but air tankers have been dropping water and fire retardant on the flames.
Numerous wild fires burn throughout Alberta with another large, out of control fire near Slave Lake.
Relief in the form of lower temperatures and rain are not in the forecast. Tomorrow Edmonton is expected to break a 50 year record for high temperatures. Rain is a fraction of what normally falls. The prairie spring is recording temperatures normally encountered in June and July.
Neighbouring provinces are also feeling the hot, dry weather. Much of Saskatchewan is extremely dry and British Columbia has most of the province classified as high risk for fire danger.
The aberrant weather is being blamed on El Nino.
It’s not just fire that threatens the forests of BC and Alberta. The Mountain Pine Beetle thrives in the warmer weather. With milder winters more of the destructive insects survive. They have ravaged the forests of BC and have hopped the Rockies to attack Alberta pines. It looks as if they are setting their sights on Saskatchewan boreal forests as well. The pine beetles have destroyed billions of dollars of wood over the past decade and cost governments millions to try to fight their spread.
Some turned their livestock out to fend for themselves rather than leave them trapped by fences or in barns.
One woman who was forced to flee the firestorm described it to a local newspaper.
"It was like a tornado coming — a fire tornado coming up the valley," she said, recalling the moments before their hasty departure. "There was no time. You just have to run."Kelowna Daily Courier
While the Rock Creek Fire continues to dominate local news, many other smaller wildfires have consumed people’s homes in other areas of the parched province. Three days ago firefighters were forced to call off the helicopters and aircraft fighting one such fire when someone foolishly chose to fly a drone over the fire, making it unsafe for the aircraft. This was the second incident of this kind this year.
BC has registered 1600 wildfires so far this year. Fire season usually starts mid-way through July but because of the drought, it began in May.
South of the border, the western US states have been coping with drought and massive wildfires as well.
Also at NEWTEKWORLDNEWS:
Heat and drought threaten BC salmon runs
Western Canada scorched by wildfires
Kelowna Daily Courier
Blogger, gardener, farmer. Working toward food security and a 30 foot
diet. Addicted to reading. Love this planet, especially my little corner
on Vancouver Island, Canada