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An uncontrolled forest fire in Canada has forced thousands of residents to evacuate

The first major wildfire of the season continues to rage in western Canada as firefighters try to control the rapidly spreading blaze and authorities evacuate a town in British Columbia, warning residents of an oil hub in Alberta to prepare to leave.

Alberta said the fire was extreme and out of control, burning 16 kilometers southwest of Fort McMurray and spreading across 1,992 hectares of land, nearly double what was previously reported.

In British Columbia, thousands of residents of the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality and Fort Nelson First Nations were asked to evacuate as the fire spread across 1,696 hectares.

Northern Rockies Regional Municipality Mayor Rob Fraser, in a television interview, said most of the 3,500 residents living in and around Fort Nelson had been evacuated.

Fraser said the fire was started by a tree that fell onto a power line due to high winds.

Five fire crews, nine helicopters and air tankers worked on the fire on Saturday. Alberta officials hope cooler nighttime temperatures will slow fire behavior.

Operations continued Saturday night with helicopters with night vision and heavy equipment.

Evacuation warnings were in effect for Fort McMurray, Saprae Creek Estates and extended to Gregoire Lake Estates and Rickards Landing Industrial Park Saturday night.

While there is no immediate risk to these communities, the alert ensures that residents are ready to evacuate if conditions change.

The smoke in Fort McMurray on Saturday was coming from fires in northern British Columbia, Alberta said.

Environment Canada released a special statement on Sunday about air quality stretching from British Columbia to Ontario.

The federal government has warned that Canada faces another “catastrophic” fire season as it expects above-normal spring and summer temperatures across much of the country, driven by El Nino weather conditions.

Canada has experienced one of its warmest winters, with little or no snow in many areas, raising fears of a hot summer that could spark fires in forests and wilderness areas amid the current drought.

In 2016, more than 80,000 people were evacuated from Fort McMurray when a fire burned thousands of homes and buildings.

Source: Terra

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