Wildfires have prompted the City of Fort St. John, B.C., to tell all of its roughly 21,000 residents to get ready to leave on short notice, while the Peace River Regional District has issued an evacuation order for a large rural area to the north.

The Stoddart Creek wildfire discovered on Saturday has grown to 130 square kilometres in size, and the BC Wildfire Service says it continues to spread.

The nearby Red Creek fire measures about 29 square kilometres, and the service says human activity is the suspected cause of both out-of-control blazes.

Doig River First Nation north of Fort St. John has issued an evacuation order, telling residents to leave right away — although its bulletin urges people to stay calm, saying the community is not in imminent danger and the order is a precaution.

An unusual May heat wave has spurred rising wildfire risks in both B.C. and Alberta, with close to 40 communities breaking daily high temperature records on Sunday.

Environment Canada heat warnings and advisories cover parts of both provinces as temperatures push into the high 20s and low to mid-30s.

As of Monday night, more than 19,000 people in Alberta have been forced from their homes, with 24 of nearly 90 active wildfires in the province classified as burning out of control.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 16, 2023.