Rain and even smoke help fight wildfires in Alberta; new fire prompts evacuation in British Columbia

Canadian officials say scattered rain and even a blanket of smoke cooled air temperatures and helped wildfire-fighting efforts in Alberta over the weekend

In this photo released by the British Columbia Wildfire Service, a planned 2,000 hectare ignition is successfully completed on the Stoddart Creek Wildfire, Saturday, May 20, 2023, in Stoddart Creek, British Columbia. The operation achieved its goal of removing unburned and highly sensitive understory fuels and wood between the westernmost edge of the fire and Highway 97 and reduced the likelihood of spread to west across the highway. (Scott Reynolds/British Columbia Wildfire Service via The Canadian Press via AP)

The Associated Press

EDMONTON, AB — Scattered rain and even a blanket of smoke cooled air temperatures and helped wildfire-fighting efforts in Alberta over the weekend, officials said Sunday, while a new blaze in Neighboring British Columbia led to an evacuation order for a rural area.

As the thick smoke has brought cooler temperatures, it has also limited the ability to fly firefighting planes and it can harm the health of people who must breathe it in, authorities added.

“I can’t say one outweighs the other. We will take advantage of any opportunity that comes our way, and if it provides an opportunity for more firefighting on the ground, then that is what we are capable of doing,” said Christie Tucker, a manager. Alberta firefighters at a press conference.

Tucker said only five new wildfires started between Friday morning and Sunday morning, some of which he attributed to Albertans following fire restrictions and ATV use. A total of 84 fires burned across the province on Sunday, 23 of which were out of control. More than 10,000 people were sheltering away from their homes.

“While we’re optimistic the forecast rain will be enough to make a difference to some wildfires in the province, we’re not off the hook just yet,” Tucker said.

In British Columbia, which has also been plagued by wildfires, an out of control blaze led authorities to order the evacuation of an area near Lake Tzenzaicut about 600 kilometers (375 miles) to the north of Vancouver. Firefighters had to abandon a property.

Jessica Mack, spokeswoman for the Cariboo Fire Centre, said crews were using heavy equipment and firefighting aircraft to battle the growing blaze.

Officials said a number of major wildfires remained in the Cariboo and Peace River regions, but changing wind directions and cooler weather helped fighters temper the spread of those fires.

In the Cariboo region, an evacuation alert has been lifted for the communities of Anahim Lake and Ulkatcho First Nation.

ABC News

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