More than 200 wildfires are still burning out of control in Canada this morning as the country’s record-setting forest fire season continues to raze thousands of square kilometres every day.
Rain helped ease the fire situation in parts of Alberta and Quebec over the weekend, but the fire risk remains high in most of the country.
As of this morning, 420 fires were burning in nine provinces and two territories, and 207 of those are still considered to be out of control.
More than 58,000 square kilometres has burned so far this year, or an area almost twice the size of Vancouver Island.
Environment Canada says the air quality is good in most areas, though pockets of moderate risk remain in and around Edmonton and Toronto and in some parts of northeastern British Columbia.
The Donnie Creek fire north of Fort St. John, B.C., is now the largest fire that province has ever recorded and is still burning out of control more than a month after it started.
The mayor of a northern Quebec town said Monday that firefighters were making progress combating a nearby forest fire, but he warned residents to be prepared should a new evacuation order be issued.
About two-thirds of residents of Lebel-sur-Quévillon, Que., began returning home over the weekend after officials lifted a 17-day evacuation order due to encroaching wildfires, Mayor Guy Lafrenière said. The return home, he added, had so far gone smoothly.
Low winds have helped firefighters’ efforts, but the flammability index in the region remained high and could increase in the coming days, he said, adding that residents must respect bans on open-air fires and fireworks or risk a $1,000 fine.
“We have to do everything we can to be very, very safe,” he said.
Meanwhile, Quebec Premier François Legault on Monday told reporters in the municipality of Ste-Sophie, north of Montreal, that officials were still concerned about wildfires in the province’s northern region and were following the situation closely.
Quebec’s forest fire prevention agency — SOPFEU — reported about 100 active wildfires in the province, down from about 160 at the beginning of June, the premier said.
Despite that progress, Legault insisted, “We are still in a worrying situation.”
Hundreds of firefighters from outside Quebec have been dispatched to combat wildfires in the province, including a contingent of American firefighters in the area around Lebel-sur-Quévillon. Others come from New Brunswick, France, Portugal and Spain.