The latest news on wildfires in Canada as thousands forced from homes in the West

Wildfires have forced thousands out of several communities in Western Canada.

Roughly 6,600 residents have been told to leave their homes in Fort McMurray, Alta., while the rest of the city remains on evacuation alert. In Fort Nelson, B.C., the northern community of about 4,700 people has been evacuated for a week. And a fire near Cranberry Portage, Man., has forced out about 500 residents.

Here are the latest developments (all times are MT):

2:49 p.m.

One of the Fort Nelson area residents posting videos of the evacuation zone to social media says he is sorry that his video showed some destroyed buildings, but he will not restrict his movement to his property despite not being registered as part of the official firefighting effort.

Duane Loe says it was not his intent "to try to hurt people's feelings" with his videos of the aftermath of the Parker Lake blaze and he'll refrain from taking close-ups in the future.

But Loe says many people who have evacuated from Fort Nelson want to see what's happening with their community.

He says he'll continue to shoot videos to post online, as well as help out others who have stayed behind while keeping out of the way of emergency workers.


2:05 p.m.

B.C.’s Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma says the province's worst fears about fires in the northeast haven't materialized.

But Ma says the region isn't "out of the woods,” and the long weekend will be challenging.

She says tourists are welcome to visit the "huge" province, but they should stay away from Fort Nelson, which has been evacuated due to wildfires.


1:55 p.m.

Hundreds of people who had to leave their homes in northwest Manitoba will be allowed to return Sunday morning.

The provincial wildfire service says the fire line closest to Cranberry Portage is under control, and the weather has been cooperating.

The province says a small number of properties were damaged.


12:42 p.m.

Northern Rockies Regional Municipality Mayor Rob Fraser is warning residents staying behind in Fort Nelson, B.C., to stay on their properties if they're not registered with the firefighting effort.

Fraser says the law requires people in an evacuation zone to remain on their property. He says activities such as driving around and taking images of wildfire destruction hampers emergency workers in their duties to fight the fires and maintain order in the community.

The comments come after videos were posted on social media showing destroyed buildings from the Parker Lake wildfire burning 2.5 kilometres west of Fort Nelson.


12:30 p.m.

The BC Wildfire Service says there's an isolated risk of thunderstorms in the Fort Nelson area, where recent rain has dampened wildfire activity.

Conditions remain favourable as crews battle the Parker Lake fire burning outside Fort Nelson, but the service says recent rain isn't enough to offset the persistent drought in the region.

The latest update from the service says fuels are beginning to dry out heading into the weekend.


11:30 a.m.

Videos posted on social media show what appear to be multiple homes destroyed by the wildfire outside Fort Nelson, B.C.

The Facebook videos include scenes of large structures reduced to ash and twisted metal, as well as scorched vehicles.

Rob Fraser, mayor of the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality, which includes Fort Nelson, has said fire damaged some structures on rural properties outside the town, and emergency staff were working to contact owners.


10:00 a.m.

About 10 millimetres of rain fell overnight on the wildfire threatening the oilsands hub city of Fort McMurray, Alta.

The province's wildfire service says more rain is also in the forecast.

The fire is still classified as out of control and continues to burn 5.5 kilometres from the landfill just south of the city, and 4.5 kilometres from the major intersection of Highway 63 and Highway 881.


9:50 a.m.

B.C. wildfire crews got what they were hoping for as a low-pressure system brought much-needed rain, cooler temperatures and lower humidity to the Fort Nelson area, in far northeast B.C.

Evan Peck, a fire behaviour specialist with the BC Wildfire Service, says the weather has made for "excellent" conditions for fire suppression efforts.

In a video posted by the service late Thursday, he says there has been minimal growth of the Parker Lake fire burning 2.5 kilometres outside Fort Nelson, whose 4,700 residents were told to evacuate last Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2024.

The Canadian Press