June 4, 2023

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Alberta wildfires: More than 13,000 people have been evacuated in western Canada as fires rage across the region amid hot weather and high winds

(CNN) More than 13,000 people living in the Canadian province of Alberta have been evacuated as wildfires rage across the region, which is experiencing abnormally hot weather and high winds, emergency officials said.

At least 78 fires are burning across the Western Province, 19 of them get out of control, Stephen Lacroix, director of the District Emergency Management Agency, told reporters during a press conference on Friday.

“This is a stark reminder of how powerful and unpredictable wildfires can be,” said Lacroix.

According to Kristi Tucker, director of the Alberta Wildfire Information Unit, some residents in the Fox Lake community, where the fire intensified, have been evacuated by helicopter. Friday morning, dozens of Fox Lake firefighters were battling blazes that have burned nearly 11,000 acres, officials said.

In Drayton Valley, firefighters, helicopters and aircraft carriers battled in an out-of-control blaze that has blazed more than 3,700 acres, according to Tucker.

Authorities in the county municipality of Yellowhead and the town of Edson also ordered immediate evacuations due to wildfires raging in Alberta, Edson officials said. The city of Edson has a population of just under 9,000, according to the community website.

Friday evening, Alberta officials Expand the mandatory evacuation order in Lac Ste. Ann County, which is about 50 miles northwest of Edmonton. Officials told residents that the evacuations could last up to three days.

It also ordered parts of Great Lakes County – home to about 5,600 residents – to evacuate, including residents east of West Prairie River and Highway 749 and south of City Route 724. It is unclear how many people have been affected by the evacuations.

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The officials asked Banana Belt residents to prepare their “property by clearing log piles, plowing, and plowing around the property if possible.”

“There is a potential danger to life and health,” Great Lakes County officials said he said in a post.

“Temperatures have been 10 to 15 degrees above normal for a little while now,” Tucker said. “We still don’t have green grass and leaves all over the province, which means the land is very dry.”

The Northern Territory is experiencing extremely hot and windy conditions, Tucker said, and residents are not allowed to start open wildfires on public or private land while the fire is burning.

Of the 348 wildfires in Alberta since January, Tucker said, they have burned more than 61,776 acres.

“There is much more wildfire activity at this time of year than we’ve certainly seen at any time in the recent past,” Tucker noted.

CNN’s Melissa Alonso contributed to this report.