A weeks-long struggle against wildfires in western Canada reached a “turning point” on Monday, with intermittent rainfall reported over hotspots and more precipitation on the way, officials said.
The Alberta wildfires have displaced tens of thousands of people and burnt over 945,000 hectares.
“We have received rain, I understand, on almost every wildfire that’s currently burning in the province except those in the far north,” Christie Tucker of the Alberta Wildfire agency told a briefing.
“This could be a turning point for the firefighters working out there on the fires,” she said. “It will offer them a chance to make real progress on controlling these fires.”
The precipitation started Sunday and was forecast to continue.
“It is not the sustained soaking rain we so desperately need,” said Bre Hutchinson, head of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency.
However, it has assisted in reducing the number of active flames from a recent high of 110 to 77.
Tucker also stated that wet vegetation would make the region’s forests and grasslands “more resilient in the coming weeks.”
Western Canada has been regularly battered by extreme weather in recent years, the strength and frequency of which have increased due to global warming.
This has resulted in floods and mudslides, forest fires that destroyed an entire town, and record-breaking summer temperatures that will kill over 500 people in 2021.
The unusually hot, dry weather this spring has created a “unprecedented” issue, according to Alberta Premier Danielle Smith.
The province has been declared in an emergency for the past two weeks.
As of Monday, around 11,000 residents were under evacuation orders, down from almost 30,000 the day before. According to officials, better wildfire and smoke conditions may result in more people returning home shortly.