The Alberta government is warning that the weather is pushing the threat of wildfires in forested areas to extreme levels.

The problem is continued hot, dry conditions and expected winds of up to 50 km/h.

The province said Thursday wildfires that start under these conditions can grow very large, very quickly and are very difficult to put out.

There were 46 wildfires listed as out of control Thursday and the government said there is a strong likelihood of more fires caused by lightning strikes.

There were a total of 116 wildfires burning in Alberta Thursday.

Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement for northeast Alberta due to wildfire smoke.

It said people should be aware of potential health concerns, and that even healthy individuals may experience temporary irritation of eyes and throat, and possibly shortness of breath.

The air quality health index for Edmontonwas listed as low risk – at level 3 – at noon on Thursday.

Fire weather advisories are only issued when conditions significantly increase the risk of uncontrolled wildfires.

All burning permits within the central and northern parts of the Forest Protection Area of Alberta have been cancelled and no new permits will be issued.

Many areas across the province havefire bans or fire advisories in effect.

If you spot a wildfire, call 310-FIRE.