Fire south of Fort McMurray now Being Held

Fire MWF-017 is now classified as, “Being Held.”

Alberta Wildfire has reclassified the fire burning south of Fort McMurray to “Being Held.” This means that given current weather conditions and resources, the wildfire is not anticipated to grow past expected boundaries. The blaze, designated MWF-017, is 19,451 hectares and remains approximately 5.5 km south of Fort McMurray and 4.5 km from the junction of Highways 63 and 881.

Wet weather has assisted in the battle against the blaze. Over 4 cm of rain has fallen on the fire since Thursday, May 16, 2024. Over the weekend, operators completed a 25 km fire guard southwest of Fort McMurray. Alberta Wildfire says the risk of the fire growing towards communities and important infrastructure is greatly reduced. With the progress made, crews are beginning to remove structural protection equipment that was deployed to communities put at risk from the fire.

Although the status of the fire has changed, an Incident Command Team remains in place to coordinate the efforts of the 233 firefighters and 22 helicopters working to extinguish the wildfire. Another 24 pieces of heavy equipment are supporting the effort.

The province says much of the work now involves locating and extinguishing hot spots within the perimeter of the blaze. Wildland firefighters seek out hot spots or burning vegetation, dig them up, and extinguish them. They are aided by helicopters engaging in aerial wildfire suppression.

Once warm and dry conditions return, the interior of the wildfire is expected to become more active. Officials say pockets of unburnt vegetation can catch on fire and smoke may become visible from nearby communities. Alberta Wildfire assures this is normal and expected.

Both Fort McMurray Public and Catholic School Divisions are resuming normal classes on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. This includes Father Beauregard, École Boréale, Good Shepherd, and Beacon Hill Public Schools as the evacuation order for areas of Fort McMurray was lifted on Saturday, May 18, 2024.

The fire danger rating for the Fort McMurray area is now classified as low, but a fire ban remains in effect across the Fort McMurray Forest Area, and an Off-Highway-Vehicle restriction is still in place for areas south of Lake Athabasca.

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