Ottawa [Canada], May 16 (ANI): Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Alberta to support military personnel deployed there to fight still-burning wildfires that have prompted thousands of people to flee their homes, reported Al Jazeera.
Trudeau travelled to the provincial capital of Edmonton, to get an update on the firefighting efforts.
According to the Alberta government, Canadian soldiers were already dispatched last week and more Canadian troops are expected to join the operation to assist with firefighting and recovery activities in the coming days.
"Last week, as wildfires burned across Alberta, we approved the province's request for federal assistance. @CanadianForces members have been deployed to provide firefighting support, help evacuate isolated communities, and make sure people are safe. Today, we stopped by to receive an update from those on the ground - and to thank them for the work they're doing," Trudeau tweeted after his visit.
The extensive fires have marked an explosive start to the wildfire season in the oil-rich province, forcing more than 30,000 people at one point and stopping the production of at least 3,19,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, or 3.7 per cent of the national output, as per Al Jazeera.
According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, the first 11 days of May have witnessed record-breaking temperatures for Edmonton and other areas of Alberta.
A cold front that will start to move into the province on Tuesday evening is predicted to bring gusty gusts, a modest likelihood of a thunderstorm, but not much rain, according to Environment Canada meteorologist Sara Hoffman.
Hoffman said, "We're very concerned about the possibility of dry lightning in an area that's already got a pretty high fire risk." The hot and dry weather is predicted to get worse again starting on Friday and is unlikely to get better until early next week.
According to an Alberta Wildfire data tracker, 87 wildfires were still blazing throughout the province as of Monday afternoon, with 25 of them being deemed out of control.
More than 19,000 individuals have also left their houses, Al Jazeera reported.
Canada's minister of disaster preparedness, Bill Blair who spoke to reporters in Edmonton on Monday afternoon said that a major factor in the ongoing fire was especially the extremely high temperatures.
Blair said, "The fire activity here in Alberta has begun earlier than normally expected. It's almost without precedent to have this level of fire activity in the province."
"It appears that these hot, dry, windy conditions could prevail over several days, and so clearly, we are here for the long haul," he added.
Several experts have cited climate change as a cause of the global worsening of extreme weather events like wildfires, heat waves, and tropical storms.
In 2016, as many as 1,00,000 people were evicted from Fort McMurray as a result of forest fires in the Alberta oil sands region, which also severely impacted the Canadian economy, according to Al Jazeera.
In the country's westernmost province, British Columbia, a devastating heatwave in 2021 resulted in hundreds of fatalities. Numerous wildfires were also started by the heat, forcing evacuations and destroying entire settlements.
Alberta Wildfires administrator Josee St-Onge during a briefing on Sunday, said that the peak burning time for Alberta occurs "when the temperatures are at their highest and the fuels are at their driest, is still in front of us."
"It's too soon to say when we're going to see the peak of this wildfire season," St-Onge said. "We are going to continue to be challenged," Al Jazeera reported. (ANI)
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