Alberta firefighters prepare for challenging conditions as heat wave sweeps Western Canada

Sweltering conditions from a heat wave gripping Western Canada will present challenging conditions for firefighters in northern Alberta on Tuesday.

Wildfire danger warnings spread across Alberta over the weekend with extreme temperatures and out-of-control fires in the northern areas of the province.

The wildfire danger level is very high in the Fort McMurray forest area, where at least one out-of-control fire continues to spread.

“The next few days are expected to be challenging for our operational efforts,” stated an update Monday evening from Alberta Wildfire. “There is an extreme heat warning for our area and winds will be shifting in the afternoon.”

No evacuation orders have been declared as of 10 p.m. MT Monday. 

Wildfire officials forecast a southwest wind of 15 km/h Tuesday, with winds expected to shift south in the afternoon at 20 km/h. 

Temperatures in northern Alberta are expected to climb to between 30 and 35 C and will persist until at least midweek, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada. 

Heat warnings for Tuesday spread throughout Alberta. (Alberta Wildfire)

A high of 32 C is expected for the Fort McMurray forest area Tuesday. 

Several wildfires in the area were caused by lightning, with all but one classified as under control as of Monday evening. 

The out-of-control Cattail Lake complex fire is located roughly eight kilometres northeast of industrial facilities and about 50 kilometres northeast of Fort McKay, Alta., and 70 kilometres northeast of Fort McMurray. It covers about 13,100 hectares in size.

An update Monday evening said there were 202 people working on the fires in the area, including 95 firefighters, 20 helicopters completing bucketing operations and 36 heavy equipment groups working on day and night operations.   

Extreme wildfire danger in High Level, Alta. 

On Monday, the wildfire danger level for the High Level, Alta., area was classified as extreme. 

Communities were being warned of heavy smoke, as firefighters continue to battle 39 wildfires burning in the area, including 10 that are out of control. 

One of the wildfires is along the border shared with B.C., and another one is along the border shared with the N.W.T.  

A wildfire alert was issued for Little Red River Cree Nation just after 1 p.m. MT Monday. An alert remains in effect for everyone in Chateh, and the areas to the west and southwest. 

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