Canadian town threatened by wildfire likely to avoid direct hit

FILE PHOTO: The Parker Lake wildfire glows in an aerial photograph taken by a B.C. Emergency Health Services crew member

By Saadeq Ahmed

TORONTO (Reuters) - A wildfire burning near Fort Nelson, in rural British Columbia has grown in size but is moving away from the town, offering some relief to residents who were forced to evacuate, a provincial wildfire service said on Tuesday.

Some 3,000 residents had to flee the town after the fire was discovered on May 10, and is believed to be human caused, the agency added.

Still, across Canada some 135 active fires are burning of which 40 are out of control. The Environment Canada has issued air quality advisories on Tuesday for British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories.

Smoke from wildfires in northeast British Columbia have worsened air quality and reduced visibility in northwest Alberta, Environment Canada said.

The agency forecasts a wind shift on Thursday, resulting in some improvement, but additional fires burning near the Northwest Territories border are likely to contribute to continued poor air quality.

"Wildfire smoke will spread across parts of northern Alberta today and will continue on Wednesday," Environment Canada said.

Wildfire season in Canada typically runs from April, when the snow melts, until September or October when cooler temperatures and increased precipitation helps dampen fire activity.

Last year, Canada recorded its worst-ever wildfire season, with over 6,000 fires torching some 18.5 million hectares (45 million acres) simultaneously in the east and west of the country, according to Natural Resources Canada.

A number of active fires in the province of Manitoba has resulted in evacuation of thousands of residents in the town of Cranberry Portage, according to a fire bulletin from the Manitoba Wildfire Service.

(Reporting by Saadeq Ahmed; Editing by Aurora Ellis)