“It Was A Significant Event And Not Normal” Fort McMurray Experiencing High Number Of Wildfires

Fort McMurray is experiencing a rare stretch with a lot of wildfires.

While these blazes are common across the Boreal Forest, the number happening at once is something Alberta Wildfire is calling a ‘significant event.’

Since the start of March, there have been 89 wildfires across the Fort McMurray Forest Area with the majority starting after the region experienced a severe thunderstorm.

Area Information Officer for Alberta Wildfire Lynn Daina tells Mix News the dry winter and spring, along with record high temperatures, made the area very susceptible to a large number of fires.

“So you have that kind of weather that’s just ripe for creating thunderstorms and with those come the lightning.”

The Fort McMurray Forest Area has been averaging around 58 fires every wildfire season for the past five years.

At one time in July, there were a total of 44 wildfires active between Fort Chipewyan and Anzac. Janvier and Conklin are located in the Lac La Biche Forest Area.

As of Thursday afternoon, crews were still fighting over 25 blazes, however, none are deemed out of control.

Daina says, fortunately, most of these fires started in the middle of the forest and away from people.

The closest one was around 15 km away from Anzac and the Fort McMurray #468 First Nation.

“They were seeing more smoke and activity in the area but everything right now is just fine,” said Daina.

Despite being prepared for the wildfires, regional crews needed extra help to deal with the high number.

Firefighters from across the province have travelled up to offer a helping hand. This includes individuals from Peace River, High Level, Rocky Mountain House, Calgary, and Edson.

“We’re managing very well with their assistance to get everything either being held, under control or extinguished,” added Daina.

Crews from Prince Edward Island and Quebec also helped for a short period of time, however, they’ve since returned home.

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