Newly released satellite photos show the massive extent of wildfires blazing in Alberta as the province continues its fight to extinguish them.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published six days’ worth of photos of the wildfires Thursday. So far, an estimated 405,908 hectares have burned or are burning in Alberta – double the area burnt in all of last year’s wildfire season.
As of Friday morning, the Alberta government reported at least 74 active wildfires, 21 of which were considered out of control. The government declared a state of emergency on May 6 after the wildfires intensified last week.
NOAA satellite photos show a series of wildfires breaking out on May 5 in the province.
In the week since, thousands have been evacuated from their homes with no timeline of return; the Canadian Armed Forces have been deployed to help and after a brief reprieve of cool weather, warm temperatures threaten to worsen the situation over the coming days.
Temperatures in the high 20s and low to mid-30s are expected in some areas over the coming days, with daytime highs soaring up to 15 degrees above normal.
Though the wildfires blaze in Alberta, their impact isn’t limited to the province’s borders as smoke from the wildfires was seen filling skies in Western Canada, NOAA photos show.
The dire situation has even caught the attention of King Charles, who sent thoughts and prayers to the people of Alberta in a statement released through the Governor General’s office.
“We send our most special thoughts and prayers to all those who have been displaced and who have lost their homes, businesses or property. We would also like to express our deepest admiration to the first responders and volunteers who have been working to bring the fires under control, while also supporting their neighbours and communities in need,” he said.
“We hold many fond memories of our visits to Western Canada and know that those affected will rise to this challenge with customary Canadian strength, resilience and determination.”
The Alberta government has announced it will join Ottawa in a donation-matching program with the Canadian Red Cross that would see every $1 donated become $3.
Indigenous Services Canada said late Wednesday that wildfires are threatening nine First Nations in Alberta, including the Little Red River Cree Nation, where more than 100 structures have been lost in the community of Fox Lake.
The provincial government declares March 1 the start of wildfire season.
— with files from Global News’ Eric Stober and The Canadian Press
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