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Thousands forced to evacuate as wildfires ravage Canada | World News

Thousands of people have been forced to evacuate their homes as unprecedented wildfires ravage western Canada.

Alberta has declared a provincial state of emergency after 45 new fires broke out in just under 24 hours.

By Saturday evening, more than 24,000 people in Alberta were under evacuation orders as 110 active wildfires burned – 36 of them out of control.

Additional firefighters have been sent in from Quebec and Ontario, but it has been an “extremely challenging” day for those battling the blaze.

“We were battling very strong winds, hot weather, and those winds produced extreme wildfire activity,” said Christie Tucker, an information unit manager for the Alberta Wildfire provincial government service.

The hot, dry spring has turned much of the landscape to kindling, so “all it takes is a few sparks to ignite some truly frightening wildfires,” said Premier Danielle Smith, head of Alberta’s ruling United Conservative Party.

“These conditions have resulted in the unprecedented situation our province is facing today,” she added.

‘Praying for rain’

So far this year, there have been 43,000 hectares burned from wildfires, Ms Smith said, adding that it was “very unusual” to see this much fire activity so early in the season.

In one community, fire consumed 20 homes and the police station.

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A smoke column rises from wildfire EWF031 near Lodgepole, Alberta, Canada May 4, 2023. Alberta Wildfire/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

“(We are) monitoring closely and praying for rain,” said Grant Fagerheim, the CEO of Whitecap, an oil producer in northwestern and central Alberta.

Pembina Pipeline Corp, which runs oil-gathering pipelines in the region, on Friday, said it had activated emergency response and incident management processes and is “evaluating any current or anticipated operational impacts”.

This story originally appeared on Skynews

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