PRINCE ALBERT, Saskatchewan (AP) — Wildfires in Saskatchewan burned out of control Friday, with one blaze more than five times the size of the province's largest city, Saskatoon, officials said. Fires also raged in British Columbia and Alberta.
The western Canada wildfires have forced thousands of people to evacuate, and air advisories have been issued across central and western Canada, as well as parts of the western U.S., due to the thick smoke over the region.
About 200 fires burned in British Columbia, fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said. He said about 2,300 people are fighting the blazes and that a crew of about 50 people from Australia is expected to join them next week.
Data posted on the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre said wildfires have burned almost 2.4 million acres (one million hectares) in Saskatchewan alone so far this year.
In one of the hardest hit parts of Saskatchewan, Montreal Lake, about 200 Canadian soldiers pushed through the bush trying to keep the area safe from the flames.
Trisha Halkett, 20, sat on a bench outside a local hotel, her 2-year-old daughter and husband by her side. She said she hopes she will be able to return home by the time her second baby is born next month.
"I certainly hope so," she said, patting her stomach.
Kim Weir, a Parks Canada spokeswoman, said a wildfire burning in Jasper National Park has grown substantially, forcing campers and other visitors out of the area. The popular park remains open, but with a ban on campfires.
Officials said some relief might be in store for firefighters in British Columbia, with showers and cooler weather forecast.