(CNN) — More than 13,000 people who live in the Canadian province of Alberta have been evacuated as wildfires rage across the region, which is seeing abnormally hot weather and high winds, emergency officials said.
At least 78 wildfires are burning across the western province, 19 of which are burning out of control, Stephen Lacroix, the region’s emergency management agency director, told reporters during a Friday news conference.
“This is a stark reminder of just how unpredictable and powerful wildfire can be,” Lacroix said.
Some residents in the community of Fox Lake, where the fires are severe, had to be evacuated by helicopters, according to Christie Tucker, Alberta Wildfire’s information unit manager. On Friday morning, dozens of firefighters in Fox Lake were battling the blazes, which burned nearly 11,000 acres, officials said.
In Drayton Valley, firefighters, helicopters and air tankers battled an out-of-control fire that torched over 3,700 acres, according to Tucker.
Authorities in the municipality of Yellowhead County and the town of Edson have also ordered an immediate evacuation due to wildfires burning in Alberta, Edson officials tweeted. The town of Edson has a population of just under 9,000 residents, according to the community’s website.
On Friday night, Alberta officials expanded the mandatory evacuation order in Lac Ste. Anne County, which is about 50 miles northwest of Edmonton. Officials told residents evacuations could last up to three days.
Portions of Big Lakes County — home to about 5,600 residents — were also ordered to evacuate, including residents east of the West Prairie River and Highway 749 and south of Township Road 724. It’s unclear how many people are affected by the evacuations.
Officials asked Banana Belt residents to prepare “their properties by removing log piles, deadfall, and plowing around properties if possible.”
“There is the potential for danger to life and health,” Big Lakes County officials said in a post.
“Temperatures have been 10 to 15 degrees above normal for a little while now,” Tucker said. “We still don’t have green grass and leaves all over the province, which means that the ground is very dry.”
The northern province has been experiencing extremely warm conditions and high winds, Tucker said, and residents are not allowed to have open woodfires on public or private lands while the fires are burning.
There have been 348 wildfires in Alberta since January, burning more than 61,776 acres, Tucker said.
“That’s significantly more wildfire activity this time of year than we’ve certainly seen any time in the recent past,” Tucker noted.
In northeastern British Columbia, the Peace River Regional District expanded its evacuation order for the Boundary Lake wildfire early Saturday.
The BC Wildfire Service “continues to respond to the Boundary Lake wildfire located at the BC/Alberta border, east of #FortStJohn,” the agency tweeted, adding that the wildfire was estimated to cover 4,695 acres.
“The area is being impacted by heavy smoke and visibility is poor. Aviation resources are currently being challenged by the poor visibility. Drivers are advised to avoid Highway 64 due to the poor visibility,” the BC Wildfire Service said.
The initial evacuation order was “expanded as a result of aggressive fire behavior and the risk to life safety,” according to Peace River officials.
The order includes areas on the east to the Alberta border and on the south to the south side of Imperial Avenue, district officials said.
In southeastern British Columbia, a state of local emergency and evacuation orders were issued this week by the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary due to “the imminent danger of flooding to the life and property of persons resident or present.”
“The #BCWildfire Service is prepared to support flood response across the province this weekend,” the agency tweeted Friday, adding that “20 personnel have deployed to the #CacheCreekBC area, 33 personnel are stationed in the #GrandForksBC region, and an additional 20 personnel are on standby to assist if needed.”