In this Thursday, May 5, 2016 photo provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Alberta, the charred remains of a bus sit on the side of a road in Fort McMurray, Alberta. More than 80,000 people have left Fort McMurray, in the heart of Canada's oil sands as a wildfire that has devastated the area exploded in size. (Royal Canadian Mounted Police Alberta via AP)

(Bloomberg) – As it drives tens of thousands from their homes and turns whole neighborhoods to ash, the wildfire raging through Canada’s oil-rich Alberta province is feeding on conditions that got their start thousands of miles away in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

An El Niño in the Pacific disrupted weather patterns to bring northern Alberta a dry fall and very little snow throughout the winter, said Daniel Thompson, a fire research scientist with Natural Resources Canada in Edmonton. Then, in the last week, record temperatures along with dry air and winds added to the tinderbox environment. That’s what you get with El Niño, and not just in Canada: the phenomenon’s been blamed for blazes in Indonesia and high-risk conditions across the western U.S.

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