An extended period of hot dry weather that risks worsening wildfires in Alberta began on Friday, with special weather alerts in place across western Canada and officials warning people to be vigilant.
More than 100 wildfires have ignited across Alberta since last week, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes and oil and gas producers to shut in at least 319,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), or 3.7% of the country’s production.
A few days of cooler weather and rain helped firefighters tackle some blazes. There were 82 fires burning and more than 16,000 evacuees as of Thursday afternoon, and most of the shuttered oil and gas production had been restored.
On Friday, Crescent Point Energy said it has now restarted 85% of the 45,000 boepd of production that it shut in due to the wildfire risk.
But fire officials expect to see conditions worsen in coming days. The highest temperatures are expected to hit from Sunday to Tuesday.
“Maximum daytime highs will be close to 30 degrees (centigrade) which would be 10 to 15 degrees above seasonal values,” federal ministry Environment Canada said in a special weather statement.
Around 200 soldiers have been deployed around Alberta to help fight the fires, and another 100 will be deployed over the weekend.
(Reporting by Nia Williams Editing by Alistair Bell)