2023 wildfires in Alberta worst on record for spring
Posted May 23, 2023 4:49 pm.
Last Updated May 23, 2023 5:22 pm.
Alberta’s wildfires have become the worst the province has seen during the spring.
To date, the province has responded to 520 wildfires. In total, the fires have burnt 1,017,000 hectares.
While the amount of hectares that have burned is the largest in the spring — on record — Christie Tucker, with Alberta Wildfire, said it’s the second-most the province has seen through an entire fire season, which usually ends in October.
“For this time of year, yes, this is an extraordinary year. We have not seen numbers like this in Alberta on record and it is something that … is certainly illustrating what we’ve been saying about the unusual nature of this fire season,” said Tucker.
The worst fire season on record “was I believe 1984, when the record was 1.3 million hectares that was burned over an entire fire season,” said Tucker.
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As of Tuesday’s provincial wildfire update, there are 71 active wildfires in the forest protection area of Alberta. Of those, 20 are listed as out of control.
Tucker noted rain parts of the province have received over the past few days has continued to help firefighters.
The Sturgeon Lake Complex, near Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation and Valleyview, has been reclassified to “being held”, previously the fire was listed as “out of control.”
Over 1,700 Alberta firefighters have received help from 1,123 firefighters from across the rest of Canada and the U.S.
More assistance arrived from Parks Canada Tuesday, with 96 additional firefighters coming from the U.S. on Wednesday.
By the end of the week, the province is expecting even more firefighters from New Zealand and Australia.
While Tucker could not confirm the exact number of firefighters arriving, she noted “We are expecting several groups.
“We have used this agreement that we have in place with New Zealand and Australia in the past. We sent firefighters over to Australia when they had a particularly destructive wildfire season. And this is an agreement that we use on occasion, as we do with other mutual aid agreements that we have in place with other agencies across Canada and the United States,” Tucker explained.
Tucker notes that similar training and methods of communication are the main benefits of the additional resources from other agencies.
The evacuation centre at the Edmonton Expo closed Tuesday, after just over two weeks providing meals, supports and supplies to over three thousand people and 15-hundred pets.
Now all of the boxes of supplies will go into storage, to be ready for the next disaster.
Gerry Clarke, Emergency Response Team Coordinator, says with each disaster, the team leans how better to support those displaced by disaster. With lessons learned from the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire helping with this summer.
“Every year we get bigger and better, and we are ready for anything.”
Saying they would be ready tomorrow, if needed.
-With files from Carly Robinson, CityNews