Canada has called in the army to help fight wildfires in Alberta. The fires have destroyed forests and grasslands due to hot and dry weather. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Canadian Forces would provide firefighting support, airlift resources, assist with the evacuation of isolated communities, and help keep people safe. Several Canadian provinces, as well as the US states of Oregon and Alaska, had already sent almost 300 reinforcements to fight the wildfires.
Alberta formally requested federal disaster assistance on Monday, two days after declaring a state of emergency. The military started to fan out across the region on Thursday afternoon to help “fight these unprecedented fires.” Rains and a lull in high temperatures over the last few days brought relief for exhausted firefighters and allowed some 5,000 evacuees to return home. Almost 30,000 residents had been ordered to flee fire-hit areas last week.
Fewer than 80 fires were still active on Thursday — down from a peak of 110 last weekend — including 23 out of control, according to officials. The fires have burned more than 410,000 hectares (1,580 square miles) of forest and grasslands, authorities said. Several oil and gas companies in Alberta also restarted operations that had been briefly halted due to wildfire risks to their facilities.
Environment Canada is warning that temperatures will rise sharply over the weekend, forecast to reach 30 degrees Celsius on Sunday. In recent years, western Canada has been hit repeatedly by extreme weather, the intensity and frequency of which have increased due to global warming.