In the west of the country, wind attenuation finally gives firefighters a break

Western Canada has been affected by violent fires for several days. On Wednesday, the immense blaze came dangerously close to the city of Fort McMurray (Alberta), a city of 70,000 inhabitants and one of the nerve centers of Canadian oil production. In less than 24 hours, this gigantic fire has seen its size double under the effect of violent winds and nearly 21,000 hectares have already gone up in smoke.

However, the situation improved during the day, offering some respite to the firefighters. The authorities therefore wanted to be reassuring. According to Christine Tucker, who works with the Alberta Fire Department, the wind has eased. “It’s very favorable for us,” she said at a press conference. The authorities still asked residents to remain vigilant since conditions could “deteriorate quickly”.

More than 6,000 people evacuated

Some 6,000 people have already had to be evacuated. “This evacuation is a stark reminder that our province lives under threat of wildfires and other national disasters,” said Danielle Smith, Premier of the province. This affected four neighborhoods south (Prairie Creek, Abasand, Grayling Terrace and Beacon Hill) of Fort McMurray, but the entire city is still on alert. Many stores and schools closed and the smell of smoke filled the entire city.

This fire “is a monster,” Freddy Saulnier told AFP. “I feel like I’m watching a horror movie. Everything is silent and you know that a monster is hidden behind a tree,” explained this resident, who recently arrived in this city.

Victim of global warming

Further west, near Fort Nelson, several thousand residents had already had to be evacuated last weekend. Although the situation has improved in this region of British Columbia, firefighters are still facing 125 fires, 15 of which are still out of control. “The fire calmed down with cooler weather at night. We are still praying for rain,” Rob Fraser, the mayor of Fort Neslon, told AFP.

For several years, Canada has been bearing the brunt of the consequences of global warming. Between repeated droughts and violent winds, the country recorded a catastrophic year in 2023, considered the worst fire season. Last year, nearly 15 million hectares went up in smoke and more than 200,000 people were evacuated.

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