Fort McMurray covered in haze as 125 wildfires burn across Alberta

WATCH ABOVE: Alberta is experiencing one of the worst wildfire seasons in the past five years. Gord sits down with Geoff Driscoll with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry for an update.

EDMONTON —  As of Monday morning, there were a total of 125 wildfires burning across the province. Thirty-seven were considered out of control.

“That’s quite a bit for what we’re used to,” said Wildfire Information Officer Geoff Driscoll.

“We’ve had about double the amount of fires that we did this time last year.”

Driscoll said Alberta has seen hot, dry conditions for quite some time and with that, comes lightning.

“It’s summer in Alberta, so we got a lot of lightning that came with that warm and dry weather. That has caused a lot of these fires.”

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A thick haze could be seen in Fort McMurray Monday, where the air quality index is sitting at 17 or very high risk. People are being advised to avoid strenuous activities outside, especially children and the elderly.

Northwest of Fort McMurray, wildfires were causing intermittent closures of the main highway that links Alberta to the Northwest Territories.

Alberta Transportation said Highway 35 north of High Level is being affected by the fires and smoke, which is reducing visibility.

An official said no communities are threatened but smoke from these and other fires in the region was drifting over some areas.

Wildfires in the N.W.T. could affect phone and Internet service to people living in Fort Smith and Fort Resolution. Northwestel says it is advising its customers that it is doing what it can to protect critical telecommunications equipment.

READ MORE: Dry weather fuelling Saskatchewan wildfires; air quality statement issued 

Between 10 a.m. Sunday and 10 a.m. Monday, 15 new wildfires started in Alberta, seven of which were still out of control as of Monday morning. Five have been extinguished.

“Our firefighters are working incredibly hard to make sure that these fires are contained as quickly as possible,” said Driscoll.

A total of 132, 839 hectares have burned due to wildfires this year.

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Driscoll said there are fire advisories across much of northern Alberta and people should check before planning their Canada Day festivities.

With files from The Canadian Press

Haze over Fort McMurray on Monday, June 29, 2015. Global News

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