Fires in Central Canada

Fires in Central Canadaand the Yukon Territory

8July 2006

A blanket of smoke from scores of wildfires hung over central Canada on 4 July2006. This image of the area was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite that afternoon at 2:40 p.m. Central Standard Time. 

4 July 2006

Places where MODIS detected active fires are marked in red. In this image, fires are burning in British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. Smoke appears light gray or yellow-gray, where it is very thick. The smoke spreads over a wide area, reaching northward into Northwest Territories and eastward into Manitoba. Several thousand people have been forced to evacuate their homes because of various wildfires throughout western and central Canada off and on since late June.

The smoke continued to pour from the fires in central and western Canada inthis image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite on 5 July 2006.

5 July 2006

Thick gray smoke is hanging over Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, as well as a brownish-tinged plume of smokeis reaching across the image from Alberta and Northwest Territories to the Hudson Bay. Clouds are brightwhite, and places where MODIS detected actively burning fires are marked in red.

(source: EarthObservatory)

Latest GOES-12 image:

This multispectral combined image was taken on 7 July 2006 andshows the enormous area of smoke, produced by the massive wildfires acrosswestern and central Canada. The smoke has moved southeast into the U. S. withthe most dense protions affecting the Great Lake States including the SouthernStates and the entire East Coast from South Carolina through Maine. 

(source: OSEI)

Fires in Canada’s Yukon Territory

In the southeast corner of Yukon Territory, Canada, severallarge fires were burning on 4  July 2006, when the Moderate ResolutionImaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) onNASA’s Aqua satellite passed overhead andcaptured this image. 

4 July 2006

Places where the sensor detected actively burning fires areoutlined in red. Gray-brown smoke blows northeast into the Northwest Territories.Clouds are bright white. According to reports from the Yukon Territorygovernment, lightning triggered numerous fires in this area over the firstweekend of July, but they were burning in wilderness areas and were notimmediately threatening human life or property.

See also latest news reports: 

Blaze haze hits Calgary

Weather patterns push smoke south into city

Calgary — Haze from fires raging in the province has reached asfar as Calgary.

The weather flow has pushed the haze to the city, said Rob Harris, wildfireinformation officer with Alberta Sustainable Resource Development.

“I was talking with our weather guys in Edmonton, and with the firesburning in the north, and the northerly flow, they said the smoke was pushing inthat direction,” Harris said.

Wendy Beauchesne, spokeswoman for the Calgary Health Region, said the airquality in Calgary is not a concern at this point.

But she said there have been a few calls to HealthLink from people wondering ifthey should stay indoors.

Meanwhile, in Nordegg, 210 km northwest of Calgary, residents were praying forrain yesterday as an out-of-control fire continued to threaten the smallcommunity.

A portion of the hamlet remained under an evacuation order as a forest fireburned out of control in a 126-hectare area less than 2 km away.

Some of the 130 residents evacuated earlier were allowed to return home,although they were on a one-hour evacuation alert, said Harris.

“Our firefighters have been doing an excellent job minimizing any spread onthat fire,” Harris said. “We’ve got bulldozers on the ground, whichare building a fire guard between the actual fire and the community.

“We’ve also had air tankers and helicopters dumping water and retardantsonto hot spots.”

Yesterday, 169 fires were burning in central and northern Alberta, said Harris.

Of those, 38 were classified as “out of control,” 53 were “beingheld”, while the remainder were “under control.” 



Nordegg Fire Still Blazing

Nordegg — Extensive work continues to stop what emergencyauthorities are calling the most serious forest fire in Alberta right now.

The blaze near the foothills community of Nordegg has forced scores of residentsfrom their homes.

Wildfire information officer Rob Harris says crews have been using bulldozers tocut a fire guard between the flames and the community.

Some residents were allowed to return home yesterday, but they remain on aone-hour evacuation alert.



NDP gov’t taking heat over dire forest firesituation

SASKATOON — As Saskatchewan’s boreal forest burns, thepolitical wildfires are just being ignited as the provincial government isgetting heat for allowing the situation to become so devastating.

The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) and the Saskatchewan Partyhave both criticized the NDP’s so-called “let it burn” policy,suggesting it is causing unnecessary risk to families and properties.

The government currently allows non-threatening fires to burn until they hit a20 kilometre radius of any community. At that point, aggressive action is taken.

“This situation that we’re facing now, it didn’t have to be. But this iswhat happens when government takes over from the people,” said FSINVice-Chief Lawrence Joseph. “Our people have lived in the north forcenturies and know the bush, know the territory. We could have gone in there along time ago and taken care of things but the government won’t let us. They saywe need proper training so we have to sit back and watch our forests and animalsburn.

“What did our people do years ago? They managed on their own.”

Elders have exhaled sighs of frustration watching “the bungling of theso-called professionals,” Joseph added.

“What we know about the land can’t be taught in a classroom.”

FSIN Vice-Chief Delbert Wapass said the fires are also “wiping out entirepharmacies of natural plants, roots and herbs that are used in our traditionalmedicines.”

“This will set back people in the north who rely on many of these remediesto improve the health and welfare of the aged and infirm in our community.”Trapping, berry picking and harvesting traditional plants inject much-neededcash into the Dene and Northern Woodland Cree communities, Wapass said, adding,”There is no compensation awarded to (those) who lose their livelihood forthe year.”

Vince Robillard, director of operations for the Prince Albert Grand Council,wants to see the government begin attacking fires that are within 50 or 60kilometres of a community.

“Twenty kilometres is a little too close for comfort,” he said. “Weneed to put a lid on things before they become a threat. It’s far more expensiveto evacuate people and fight a huge fire than it is to get it early.”

“Once the fires have cooled and everyone is back home, I think it’s timefor us to have a look at what has just happened, and whether these fires couldhave been handled more effectively,” said Saskatchewan Party environmentcritic Glen Hart. “We’ve see the destruction of recreational and tourismareas, large-scale evacuations and rapidly growing fires narrowly missingcommunities. I think it’s time to have a look at whether the government is doingas much as it should be doing for people living under this threat.”

Two years ago, the NDP announced it was closing six fire bases and cutting thehours of 70 permanent seasonal employees, Hart said, noting that is also whenthe government adopted its new policy.

“We have to ask whether earlier intervention would have brought some firesunder control before they threatened communities and forced evacuations.”

The policy is much the same as that of other provinces and was established inconsultation with federal agencies, on the advice of professionals in the field,and with First Nations representatives, Environment Minister John Nilson said.

“People have to understand that of they live in the boreal forest they willencounter fires — fires that rejuvenate the life of the forest. It has beenhappening for centuries.”

It is also incumbent upon those northern communities to have their own emergencyplans and fire breaks to protect themselves, Nilson added.



Forest fire risk rises with heat

More than 740 tackle 93 blazes

More than 740 firefighters, including crews from Ontario andNova Scotia, are keeping fires under control in Manitoba’s northern forests.

The Wheadon River winds through 1,300 hectares of burned forest 50 km north of Snow Lake

But an errant bolt of lightning could spark a catastrophe while conditions remain hot, dry and ripe for fire, fire officials said yesterday.

“It’s getting drier and drier and drier,” said Tom Mirus, provincial spokesman for environmental emergency response programs. “The situation is definitely getting worse because of the lightning and the weather.”

There were 93 forest fires burning in the province yesterday, six of them raging out of control, including four in the northern part of Manitoba and two east of Berens River.

None of the fires is endangering communities last night. But the forecast calls for thunderstorms and lightning, which is keeping fire officials on edge.

“Conditions are ripe for igniting fires but we’re ready to attend those (new) lightning strikes, said Conservation Minister Stan Struthers, who toured the area yesterday.

Lightning started 10 new fires between Wednesday evening andyesterday afternoon, Mirus added.

The province committed another $10 million this week for fighting the fires,bringing the total cost up to $28 million so far.

“We’re experiencing a lot higher (costs) than we’ve seen in the last fewseasons,” said Struthers.

In 2003, the province spent $68 million battling blazes. It is too early in theseason to predict if that amount will be topped this year.

‘Be vigilant’

Struthers also warned campers and anyone else in rural parts of the province toensure campfires are restricted to pits and extinguished after use.

“All of us have to be vigilant and careful not to start any newfires,” said Struthers, noting the fire crews are being kept busy enoughfighting current fires and those caused by lightning.

Of the 343 fires started this year, 214 were cause by lightning and 129 bypeople. 





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