Alberta declares provincial state of emergency as wildfires spread and more residents flee

Wildfires continue to rage in north and central Alberta and the list of evacuation orders are growing.

Close to 25,000 Albertans forced to flee, many more Albertans under evacuation alerts

A church with a large plume of orange smoke behind it.

The current wildfire situation in Alberta is an "unprecedented crisis", premier Danielle Smith said Saturday.

As of Saturday morning there were 103 active wildfires with close to 122,000 hectares of land burned, officials said at a media briefing.

Close to 25,000 Albertans have been forced to flee.

Hot and dry conditions continue to prove problematic for firefighters battling the fast-spreading wildfires that are threatening homes, businesses and lives.

One of the largest evacuations is in the Edson area, including the town's 8,000 residents. People in that area are being told to evacuate to Jasper or Hinton, as parts of Highway 16 east of the area are closed.

On Saturday, Alberta Health Services temporarily closed the Edson Healthcare Centre because of wildfire activity in the area.

More than 90 patients and residents were moved to other care facilities across the North Zone, AHS said.

A total of 79 firefighters from Ontario and Quebec will arrive in Alberta today to help battle the numerous fires that have ignited over the past week.

The entire province is under a fire ban. A provincial off-highway vehicle restriction is in place. The recreational use of off-highway vehicles on public land, including on designated OHV trails, is prohibited.

There has been 381 recorded wildfires so far this year, a number that easily eclipses any previous records during the same period. More than 123,000 hectares of land has burned this year, provincial data shows.

More to come…

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