A state of emergency has been declared in the Canadian province of Alberta after wildfires raged out of control, and officials have described it as an unprecedented crisis.
According to the news agency AFP, 25,000 people were evacuated from the area on Saturday, and thousands more citizens have been instructed to be ready to leave the affected area at any moment’s notice.
Officials have said that one-third of the fire’s spread has been declared out of control.
“We have declared a state of emergency for the safety, health, and welfare of citizens,” the province’s Premier Daniel Smith told a news conference after a meeting of his government’s emergency management committee.
Earlier, Daniel Smith said that “the province is experiencing hot weather and drought where it only takes a few sparks to ignite a terrible forest fire.”
Alberta is one of the world’s top oil-producing regions.
He said that ‘due to weather conditions, our province is facing an extraordinary and disastrous situation.’
According to Prime Minister Smith, more than 20 communities have been evacuated from the area, and at least 300,000 acres of forest have been burned to ashes.
He said declaring a state of emergency gives the Alberta government “greater powers to deal with extreme situations,” including mobilising additional resources and tapping emergency funds.
Almost all of Alberta and the neighbouring province of Saskatchewan, as well as a large portion of the Northwest Territories, face severe fire danger, according to the federal government’s fire danger map.
Federal Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair tweeted that the federal government is ready to provide assistance to the province if needed.
The Ministry of Oil is closely monitoring threats to production wells in the area, and no one has reported any disruption to production so far.