Light rain expected to help Fort McMurray wildfire, Grande Prairie blaze to grow

By The Canadian Press and News Staff

The Alberta government provided an update on the province’s wildfire situation as crews battling an out-of-control blaze outside Fort McMurray are expecting a little help from the weather.

Alberta Wildfire says there are currently 45 fires burning in the province with 18 new ones that started over the weekend.

Predicted showers near the oilsands hub, northeast of Edmonton, are expected to help lower fire activity and give crews a jump on containing the flames of one of the most serious wildfires near Fort McMurray.

“Light rain showers are expected today, which will help lower that fire activity and give firefighters a window to continue making progress on containing that fire,” says Christie Tucker of Alberta Wildfire.

The out-of-control fire has grown to about 65 square kilometres, but officials say that’s because they have a more accurate estimate not because flames are spreading.

The fire remains about 16 kilometres from the city of 68,000 people. A massive wildfire there in 2016 destroyed roughly 2,400 homes.

An evacuation alert remains in effect for the city as well as Saprae Creek Estates, Gregoire Lake Estates, Fort McMurray First Nation and Anzac.

On Monday, heavy equipment was working on a fire guard on the northeast side of the blaze, while six firefighting crews continued to establish a containment line, supported by 13 helicopters and air tankers on standby.

Structure protections were being set up as precautions in a residential area outside Fort McMurray and the First Nation, as well as an industrial park.

Grande Prairie blaze to grow

Meanwhile, crews fighting a blaze near Grande Prairie were expecting unfavourable winds and no rain.

A 14-square-kilometre wildfire remained out of control in the County of Grande Prairie and four kilometres from the hamlet of Teepee Creek.

Parts of the rural area were evacuated Friday night.

Dry, southeast winds were expected to fan the flames and fire behaviour was expected to increase.

Crews were reinforcing a fire guard constructed over the weekend. Heavy equipment teams were also working on the fire’s perimeter and air tankers and helicopters were dropping water on flames.

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