Hot and dry weather conditions have fueled more than 100 wildfires in the western Canadian province of Alberta, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes.
Authorities reported more than 24,000 people fled their homes as wildfires burned nearly 122,000 hectares (301,000 acres) across Alberta.
Alberta’s premier Danielle Smith has declared a state of emergency in the province due to the wildfires and called the situation “unprecedented” on Monday May 8.
“Much of Alberta has been experiencing a hot, dry spring and with so much kindling, all it takes is a few sparks to ignite some truly frightening wildfires,” said Smith at a press conference, according to Reuters. “These conditions have resulted in the unprecedented situation our province is facing today.”
Wildfire season usually lasts from March to October, but longer seasons and drier weather have made the events more intense.
“It is very unusual for us to see this much fire activity this early in the season,” Alberta’s Wildfire information manager Christie Tucker said, according to Reuters.
Alberta’s premier has put aside $1.5 billion Canadian US dollars (US$1.12 billion) as a contingency and has offered $1,250 Canadian dollars (US$935) financial aid for every eligible evacuated adult.