Despite rain showers and falling temperatures, the fires are spreading in western Canada. In the meantime, more than 375,000 hectares of land have burned down in the province of Alberta, and more than 29,000 people have had to leave their homes, the authorities said on Sunday afternoon.

31 of the 108 active forest fires are out of control. The province of Alberta declared a state of emergency on Saturday evening due to the extent of the fire. This will allow federal funds to be released to fight the blazes. The area burned up so far corresponds to about a quarter of the size of Schleswig-Holstein.

The recent rains have helped with the firefighting, said Christie Tucker, chief of the Alberta Wildfire Fire Protection Agency. “This gave the firefighters the opportunity to work on some of the fires that they couldn’t get to because of the extreme nature of the fires.” Cooler temperatures and higher humidity are also expected in the next few days. She also asked for help from the neighboring US state of Montana.

The extent of the damage cannot yet be estimated, the authorities said. Colin Blair, director of the Alberta Civil Protection Agency, said protecting lives and dealing with emergencies is a priority, according to broadcaster CBC.

According to the authorities, there have been more than 360 fires since January. This is an exceptionally high number given that May has only just begun. In 2016 Alberta had already experienced huge fires, at that time more than 2400 buildings were destroyed.

In view of climate change, experts warn that the frequency and intensity of forest fires will increase. In the prairie provinces in the west of the country, the average temperature has risen by 1.9 degrees Celsius since the mid-20th century, according to the Agency for Environment and Climate Change Canada.