(Reuters) - The Western Canadian city of Calgary received a special weather alert on Tuesday, warning residents of poor air quality and reduced visibility as tinder-dry weather and shifting winds elevated the risk of spreading wildfires in the oil-producing province of Alberta.
Some 90 wildfires are active in Alberta, with 23 out of control, according to the provincial government, forcing about 20,000 people out of their homes. At one point the fires forced oil and gas producers to shut in at least 319,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, or 3.7% of national production.
On Tuesday morning, Calgary-based Crescent Point Energy (CPG.TO) said it was shutting in its Kaybob Duvernay production, impacting 45,000 boe/d, as a precautionary measure due to changing wildfire conditions. Benchmark Canadian heavy crude prices have risen to their highest levels in months on concerns about the wildfires.
A cold front bringing gusty northwest wind, but little rain, was likely on Tuesday, according to Environment Canada's weather department.
The change in wind direction can pose a problem for firefighters as the path of the fires changes suddenly, said Christie Tucker, spokesperson for the Alberta Wildfire agency.
Evacuation orders and alerts have also been sounded in the neighboring province of British Columbia, where some 60 wildfires are active.
"The arrival of sustained winds from the north has resulted in aggressive fire behavior on all wildfires within the North Peace Region," the BC Wildfire Service said late on Monday.
Farther west, the hot weather is causing rapid snow melt that has increased river flow and prompted authorities to issue a flood warning for part of the Skeena region, in inland British Columbia.
The Canadian military and firefighters from across Canada and the United States are helping fight the blazes.
"We will build better," Judy Levesque, 50, who lost her Drayton Valley, Alberta, house in the wildfires, said, fighting back tears. "We planned to renovate so now we get to do it quicker."