Calgary air quality deteriorates as wildfires rage in Western Canada

Toronto, May 17 (BNA): The western Canadian city of Calgary has received a weather alert, warning residents of poor air quality and reduced visibility as dry weather and variable winds increase the risk of wildfires spreading in the oil-producing province of Alberta.

The provincial government reports that there are about 90 active wildfires in Alberta, and 23 are out of control, forcing about 20,000 people to leave their homes.

At one point, the fires forced oil and gas producers to shut down at least 319,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, or 3.7% of national production.

Calgary-based Crescent Point Energy said it will shut down Kaybob Duvernay production, affecting 45,000 barrels per day, as a precaution due to changing wildfire conditions.

Canadian benchmark crude oil prices rose to their highest in months on concerns about wildfires.

A change in wind direction can pose a problem for firefighters as the course of fires changes suddenly, said Kristi Tucker, a spokeswoman for the Alberta Wildfire Agency.

Evacuation orders and alerts have also been issued in the neighboring province of British Columbia, where about 60 wildfires are active.

The BC Wildfire Service said of late that the arrival of sustained winds from the north has fueled aggressive fire in all of the wildfires within the northern peace area.

Farther west, hot weather caused snow to melt rapidly, sending rivers overflowing and prompting authorities to issue a flood warning for part of the Skeena region of inland British Columbia.

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The Canadian military and firefighters from across Canada and the United States are helping fight the fires.


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