The latest news on wildfires in Canada as thousands forced from homes in the West

The latest news on wildfires in Canada as thousands forced from homes in the West

Wildfires have displaced thousands from several communities in western Canada.

About 6,600 residents have been asked to leave their homes in Fort McMurray, Alta., while the rest of the city remains on evacuation alert. In Fort Nelson, B.C., the northern community of about 4,700 people was evacuated for a week. And a fire near Cranberry Portage, Man., has displaced about 500 residents.

Here are the latest developments (all times are MT):

2:05 p.m

Bowinn Ma, British Columbia's emergency management minister, says the province's worst fears of fires in the northeast have not come true.

But Ma says the region is not “out of the woods” yet and the long weekend will be challenging.

She says tourists are welcome to visit the “vast” province but should stay away from Fort Nelson, which has been evacuated due to wildfires.


1:55 p.m

Hundreds of people who had to leave their homes in northwestern Manitoba will be allowed to return Sunday morning.

According to the provincial wildfire service, the fire line closest to Cranberry Portage is under control and the weather has cooperated.

According to the province, a small number of properties were damaged.


12:42 p.m

Northern Rockies Regional Municipality Mayor Rob Fraser is warning residents staying behind in Fort Nelson, B.C., to stay on their properties if they are not registered with the fire department.

Fraser said the law requires people to remain on their property in an evacuation zone. He says activities such as driving around and photographing wildfire destruction hinder responders in their job of fighting the fires and maintaining order in the community.

The comments come after videos were posted on social media showing destroyed buildings burning in the devastating Parker Lake fire, 2.5 kilometers west of Fort Nelson.


12:30 pm

According to the BC Wildfire Service, there is an isolated threat of thunderstorms in the Fort Nelson area, where recent rain has dampened wildfire activity.

Conditions remain favorable as crews battle the Parker Lake fire off Fort Nelson, but the service says recent rains are not enough to offset the region's ongoing drought.

The service's latest update says fuels are running low heading into the weekend.


11:30 a.m

Videos posted on social media appear to show several homes destroyed by the wildfire outside Fort Nelson, B.C

The Facebook videos show scenes of large buildings reduced to ash and twisted metal, as well as burned vehicles.

Rob Fraser, mayor of the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality, which includes Fort Nelson, said the fire damaged some buildings on rural properties outside the city and emergency responders were in the process of contacting the owners.


10:00 a.m

About 10 millimeters of rain fell overnight on the wildfire that threatened the oil sands capital of Fort McMurray, Alta.

The provincial forest fire service says more rain is also forecast.

The fire is still considered out of control and continues to burn 5.5 kilometers from the landfill south of the city and 4.5 kilometers from the main intersection of Highway 63 and Highway 881.

9:50 am

Wildfire crews in British Columbia got what they hoped for as a low pressure system brought much-needed rain, cooler temperatures and lower humidity to the Fort Nelson area in far northeastern British Columbia

Evan Peck, fire behavior specialist with the BC Wildfire Service, said the weather created “excellent” conditions for fighting the fire.

In a video the service released late Thursday, it says there has been minimal growth in the Parker Lake fire, which is burning 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) outside Fort Nelson. The 4,700 residents were asked to evacuate last Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2024.

The Canadian Press