Wildfire near Fort Mac

Wildfire near Fort Mac

4 June 2007

published by www.edmontonsun.com

USA — Huge blaze moving away from Suncoroilsands plant.

Firefighters are battling a massive forest fire south of Suncor Energy’soilsands plant near Fort McMurray.

But a spokesman for Sustainable Resource Development said there’s no dangerto the plant, or the nearby Petro-Canada oilsands lease, because the flames aremoving in the opposite direction.

More than 60 firefighters are dousing the blaze that ripped through 3,000hectares by early yesterday.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, said Anastasia Drummond.She added it’s not expected to grow because there are sufficient fighters onsite and the weather is expected to cool off after Wednesday.

This year’s wildfires are not as bad as last year, she said.

“We only had 385 fires compared to last year’s 745 at this time of theyear,” Drummond said.

“We did have a really cool start to spring, so that really set us back acouple of weeks compared to the situation last year at this time.”

There were 25 forest fires burning throughout the province yesterday. Exceptfor the Fort McMurray fire, all were under control.

A recent sudden spike in temperatures has made things very busy forfirefighting crews, she said.

Chris Wielki, a metereologist with Environment Canada, said Fort McMurray canexpect weather to continue dry and warm in the mid 20s until Wednesday.

There is a change of weather patterns that will start to affect Albertabeginning tomorrow, but won’t get to Fort McMurray until Wednesday, themetereologist said.

Temperatures are expected to drop into the 16C range, but will slowly reboundto the mid 20s by Thursday.

More moisture is also expected.

Drummond said higher humidity and lower temperatures are good news for firecrews.

Four crews and a fire management team responded to the fire on Saturday, butmore crews were deployed yesterday and another batch is arriving today.

The firefighters were using air tankers to drop water on the fire andhelicopters to move crews around.

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