‘This could be a turning point’: Rain brings hope for firefighting efforts in Alberta

Fewer fires were burning in Alberta Monday, thanks to rain and cooler weather across the province.

“The wildfire situation remains highly volatile across Alberta, but we are hopeful that there is some relief in sight,” said Bre Hutchinson, Alberta Emergency Management Agency executive director.

The number of active wildfires had dropped to 81, down from 91 on Saturday. Of those, 23 were classified as out-of-control.

Sixteen evacuation orders remained in place, and almost 10,900 Albertans were unable to return home.

The May long weekend is normally a time when fire activity increases, and Hutchinson thanked Albertans for obeying fire bans, restrictions and evacuation orders.

“Your efforts in following directions from local officials and first responders have been key to positively impacting our ability to respond to this wildfire emergency,” she said.

Smoke cover, cooler temperatures and higher humidity also helped firefighting efforts.

“The majority of the large-scale wildfires that have been burning in Alberta have received some rain since yesterday, which is very good news,” Tucker said. “This could be a turning point for the firefighters working out there.”

More than 2,900 firefighters and support staff from 17 agencies are working on the wildfires and additional requests for support have been made.

“This is a marathon not a sprint,” Tucker said. “We need to plan ahead to be able to continue to fight these large-scale wildfires.”

So far this season, a total of 512 wildfires have burned a record-breaking 945,000 hectares. The previous spring record was 615,000 hectares burned in 2019.

According to Canada’s Air Quality Health Index, air quality in Edmonton had improved slightly Monday afternoon, dropping from a 10+ to a 9.

By Tuesday night, the index is expected to have dropped to a low-risk 3. 

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