Wildfires continued to rage on both ends of the country Sunday, burning homes in Nova Scotia and keeping thousands of Albertans under evacuation orders.
Hundreds of people were evacuated from Upper Tantallon, a Halifax suburb, because of an out-of-control fire Sunday afternoon.
“The entire area of Westwood Hill subdivision is being evacuated. The fire is out of control at this time and it’s wind-driven,” said Halifax fire district chief Robert Hebb.
“We’ve got multiple resources, a couple of dozen crews up there now working on it, trying to get some means of containment, but it’s going to be a long event,” he said, adding that two helicopters were brought in to fight the fire.
A second emergency alert was sent out shortly after 6 p.m. local time. The alert said the fire had spread farther, and the evacuation order had been expanded to include several other subdivisions in the area.
A third emergency alert, issued just before 8 p.m. local time, called for evacuations in Haliburton Hills, Glen Arbour, Pockwood Road, Lucasville Road and the White Hills subdivision.
Corporal Chris Marshall of the RCMP said at least 10 homes had burned in the fire, but that the evacuation was proceeding smoothly. He said he could not provide an exact number of evacuees but that it was at least a few hundred.
Both he and Mr. Hebb said they were not aware of any injuries related to the fire.
In the province’s southwest, another out-of-control fire nearly doubled in size in a matter of hours Sunday.
Officials with the province’s Department of Natural Resources said the Shelburne County fire is now burning across more than 1,350 hectares, and dry, hot and windy weather is hampering the effort to contain it. They said the fire “escaped containment” on Saturday night around Barrington Lake, about an hour southeast of Yarmouth.
Officials said there are now 35 provincial firefighters and 50 volunteer firefighters on the ground. They are being supported by two helicopters, six air tankers from New Brunswick, heavy equipment and an incident management team. Officials said nearby homes have been evacuated and local police, Red Cross, and ground search and rescue officials are helping evacuees.
In British Columbia, the Peace River Regional District issued a new evacuation order and an alert on Sunday in response to two wildfires burning in the province’s northeast.
The district warned that the Donnie Creek and Tommy Lakes wildfires pose an immediate risk and urged everyone to leave the area that is primarily used by industry.
The evacuation order spans a remote area east of Highway 97, with the lower-level alert covering an area to the south.
In Alberta, meanwhile, where wildfires have been burning for weeks after an unseasonably warm and dry spring, people continued to be allowed back into their homes this past weekend, but officials warned that fire-prone conditions in the coming days could trigger even more wildfires.
Bre Hutchinson, the executive director of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency, said 5,257 people were still under evacuation order.
Melissa Story, a spokesperson for Alberta Wildfire, said 57 wildfires were still burning, 17 of them out of control. “So far this year we’ve responded to 532 wildfires burning more than 1,063,000 hectares. This is almost twice the size of Prince Edward Island,” she said.
Alberta is well on its way to having the worst fire season on record and exceeding 1981, when about 1.36 million hectares were burned.
Climate hazards, including heat waves and wildfire activity, have already intensified across North America and are projected to continue, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international body of hundreds of climate scientists.
Ms. Story said hot and dry weather increased fire activity over the weekend, and that windier conditions in the northern parts of the province are expected into Monday, potentially fuelling more fires.
Federal Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said in a tweet Saturday that an extension for the deployment of Canadian Armed Forces personnel to assist in firefighting efforts has been approved.
Ms. Story said firefighters from New Zealand were welcomed to the province Friday and that nearly 200 firefighters and support staff from Australia were also arriving this past weekend.
Alberta remains under a provincewide state of emergency, although some bans on fires, ATVs and off-highway vehicles have been relaxed in recent days.
She said close to 2,700 wildfire personnel were responding to the fires this past weekend.
With a report from The Canadian Press