May 25th, 2024

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

By The Canadian Press on May 13, 2024.

Fire crews battling a blaze outside Fort McMurray are expecting a little help from the weather today while crews working a wildfire, designated GCU007 by the Alberta Wildfire Service, near Grande Prairie say they expect unfavourable winds and no rain. An operator drives a bulldozer beside ditches dug to create a perimeter for a forest fire in an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Alberta Wildfire Service, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. – Crews battling a wildfire outside Fort McMurray, Alta., are expecting a little help from the weather.

Predicted light showers near the oilsands hub, northeast of Edmonton, are expected to help lower fire activity and give crews a jump on containing the flames.

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 Friday night 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.

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.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2024.

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