Canada — An out of control wildfire burning north of Fort McMurray continued to grow Sunday after it joined a separate fire burning in the area.
The so-called Richardson fire, which has burned for nearly a month about 60 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, continues to be classified as out of control at about 561,250 hectares.
That size includes the nearly 11,000 hectare MacKay fire, which was classified as being held on Saturday, but moved north toward the larger fire and eventually joined it, according to updates provided by Sustainable Resource Development.
That spread was aided by a burnout, or a controlled fire set by supervisors to consume unburned fuel.
The south side of the fire near the Fort MacKay fire was growing, so fire managers went in and actually burned the area between the MacKay fire and the Richardson fire, said Geoffrey Driscoll, a wildfire information officer with Sustainable Resource Development.
Fire managers would rather do it on their own terms than on the fires terms.
The Richardson wildfire, which sparked on May 14, spans from McClelland Lake to Richardson Lake and is widely considered Albertas largest in 60 years.
There are now about 700 firefighters battling wildfires, including more than 250 from across the country and 40 from Mexico.
Theyre mostly focusing on the south side of the Richardson fire, which is closest to the oilsands operations in the area. Sustainable Resource Development has also brought in 43 helicopters and 43 pieces of heavy equipment, including water trucks and bulldozers.
Firefighting efforts are primarily on the south side of the fire, Driscoll said. So theyre putting in fire guards and reinforcing those fire guards so the fire doesnt move past where it is, at least on the south side.
He said that, at this time, the fire poses no risk to residents who live in the area.
An out of control wildfire burning north of Fort McMurray continued to grow Sunday after it joined a separate fire burning in the area. The so-called Richardson fire, which has burned for nearly a month about 60 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, continues to be classified as out of control at about 561,250 hectares, as of the evening of Sunday, June 12, 2011.
The northeast portion of the fire has grown the most in the past several days, moving north of the Marguerite River toward the Archer Lake area. As of Saturday, crews were able to successfully protect several backcountry cabins along the northeast flank of the fire and continue to build and reinforce fire guards in the area.
The fire hasnt had any significant movement north toward Fort Chipewyan since Saturday.
Weather conditions in the area have been dry since the wildfire started, Driscoll said, which has helped the fire spread.
There hasnt been very much rain up there at all. There have been trace amounts over the past couple of nights, he said. The fire itself has had very little rain and the entire area overall has had very little rain in the past month.
There are five wildfires burning in the Fort McMurray area, and 26 across the province. All but the Richardson fire are classified as under control, being held, or turned over.
So far this year, 595 fires have burned more than 725,000 hectares across Alberta. The five-year average for wildfire seasons is 702 fires burning just over 7,000 hectares.