Authorities in the western Canadian province of Alberta, which has been battling devastating wildfires, closed 12 local parks ahead of the long holiday weekend, officials said Friday.
Alberta has declared a state of emergency and appealed for foreign aid as fires have destroyed more than 800,000 hectares of land and evacuated thousands of people since the beginning of the month.
According to officials, there were 94 active wildfires in the province as of Friday, of which 26 were out of control.
The situation was dire in neighboring British Columbia as well, with 22 fires out of control and dozens of evacuation orders issued.
Alberta’s 12 parks will remain closed, state officials have announced.
“As the province heads toward a hot and dry May long weekend, the current wildfire situation in Alberta remains volatile,” said Colin Blair of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency.
“It is important that all Albertans remain vigilant and closely follow updates on wildfire conditions across the province.”
Kristy Tucker of the Alberta Wildfires Fire Department said about half of the fires are started by people.
“We will manage the wildfire situation in the face of extreme conditions and ask Albertans for their help,” he said. “Don’t be responsible for starting a new wildfire.”
The temperature is expected to touch 28 degree Celsius this weekend, which is again well above the seasonal norms. And rescuers say the long weekend in May is usually when human-caused wildfires start.
More than 2,500 emergency workers have already been deployed to fight the fire and an additional 110 US firefighters will arrive in the coming days.
After more than two weeks of intense fires, poor air quality advisories were in effect for western and central parts of the country and several adjacent US states.
In recent years, western Canada has been repeatedly affected by extreme weather events, the intensity and frequency of which have increased due to global warming.