(New throughout, more evacuees details, fire and damage basics, Facebook post from local authorities)
By Ismail Shakil and Anna Mehler Paperny
OTTAWA, May 13 (Reuters) – Canada’s main oil-producing province, Alberta, faces another hot and dry weekend, with warnings of more intense wildfires after wildfires The fire forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes and temporarily shut down energy production.
Authorities in at least one area devastated by Saturday’s fire said they had seen increased fire activity and were expecting more. Residents forced to evacuate earlier this month say they are frustrated with the indefinite relocation.
Special warnings have been issued across western Canada and officials have urged vigilance with temperatures in some areas forecast to reach 30°C (86°F), 10 to 10 degrees above normal. to 15 degrees.
“We expect hot and dry conditions in most of the province, which will increase the risk of wildfires,” said Josee St-Onge, Alberta Wildfire official. “.
“We could see more intense wildfire activity later this week and early next week.”
More than 100 wildfires in the past 1-2 weeks have forced about 30,000 people to flee their homes at one point. Oil and gas producers shut down at least 319,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, or 3.7% of national output.
As of Friday afternoon, 74 fires were burning across Alberta, 20 considered out of control, with about 16,500 people evacuating.
Recent cool and rainy weather has helped firefighters tackle some fires and restore much of energy production, but forecasts for higher temperatures over the weekend have added to worries.
“We remain in an extremely volatile situation and the risk of new wildfires remains substantial in much of the province,” said Colin Blair, executive director of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency.
“It will take more than a few scattered showers to change the bushfire situation,” Blair said at the press conference.
On Friday, the town of Drayton Valley told residents in a Facebook post they should be out of their homes for “at least another week”.
Authorities in Brazeau County, southwest of the provincial capital Edmonton and including the Drayton Valley, said on Facebook Saturday morning that they had seen an increase in firefighting activity and expected will increase even more.
The Canadian military is assisting with firefighting and recovery efforts in the province, where a state of emergency has been in place since May 6.
More than 200 troops have been deployed after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government approved a request for federal assistance on Thursday, with about 100 other troops expected to join them over the weekend.
In the west coast province of British Columbia, residents were warned of fires and floods with high temperatures over the weekend. The province’s energy agency predicts record electricity usage.
Transport Canada requested in a tweet on Saturday that people not send their drones into the sky near wildfires. “The unauthorized use of drones is hindering firefighting operations.”
Marie Svejda, 74, can’t remember how many days she lived in a tent on an empty lot with her little dog Peanut. She was awakened in the middle of the night in early May at her home in Drayton Valley and told she had 30 minutes to leave. She used a bathroom at a nearby gas station.
She said she didn’t understand why it took so long to get the fire under control.
“What the hell are they doing there? Are they having a party?
Now she is preparing to move to a hotel.
“If I were here any longer, I wouldn’t remember my own name. … It’s really, really bad,” she said.
“When I return, I tell you, I will kiss the ground.” (Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa and Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)