Smoke from some of the 90 wildfires active in the province hangs in downtown Calgary
Leslie Kramer walk her dogs as some 90 wildfires are active in Alberta, with 23 out of control, according to the provincial government, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada May 16, 2023. Reuters

Authorities in Canada's main oil-producing province of Alberta have closed some parks and campgrounds and are urging residents to avoid activities that could enrage wildfires to avoid straining firefighting resources over the holiday weekend.

Traditionally, residents spend the Victoria Day weekend outside as families take advantage of the warmer weather to go camping or enjoy other outdoor activities. The long weekend in May has usually seen an uptick in seasonal wildfires, some of which are accidentally caused by people, according to Alberta Wildfire.

This year, however, record-high temperatures and tinder-dry vegetation brought about an early and intense onset of the wildfire season in western Canada. Alberta has been hit the hardest, with some 10,000 people forced out of their homes as of Thursday.

With abnormally hot and dry weather forecast until at least early next week, Alberta has preventively closed some provincial parks and campgrounds for the weekend and imposed a fire ban.

"While some outdoor activities can continue, we are asking Albertans to stay safe and take precautions to reduce the risk of wildfire," Alberta's minister of forestry, parks and tourism, Todd Loewen, said on Thursday. "It might not seem like it, but your actions this weekend will make a difference."

Officials have warned that more wildfires could spread in the next few hot and dry days, even as firefighters make progress in tackling widespread blazes that have slowed the outflow of natural gas from Canada into the United States, spiking prices.

Nearly 2,700 firefighters, including personnel from Canadian and U.S. agencies and the Canadian army, are battling about 92 active wildfires as of Thursday.

The wildfires, significantly more than usual this year, have put Alberta Premier Danielle Smith's disaster management skills - as well as her party's policies - under the microscope ahead of the provincial election on May 29.

Fire-related risks have forced oil and gas firms to cut at least 319,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day of production, or 3.7% of the country's total output.

Consultancy firm Rystad Energy has estimated nearly 2.7 million barrels per day of Alberta oil sands production in May is at risk in "very high" or "extreme" wildfire danger rating zones.

The Paskwa fire (HWF030) burns near Fox Lake
Smoke rises above the southeast perimeter of the Paskwa fire (HWF030) as it burns near Fox Lake, Alberta, Canada May 16, 2023. Alberta Wildfire/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY./File Photo Reuters