Winds set to push blaze away from Canadian oil city, says wildfire service

Reuters | Ottawa | Updated: 15-05-2024 22:06 IST | Created: 15-05-2024 21:51 IST
Winds set to push blaze away from Canadian oil city, says wildfire service
Representaive image Image Credit: ANI
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  • Canada

Favorable winds are expected to push a major wildfire away from the Canadian oil sands city of Fort McMurray, officials said on Wednesday, less than a day after 6,000 people were ordered to leave. Local authorities earlier said the fire was just 5.5 km (3.4 miles) away from the city's landfill, compared with 7.5 km (4.7 miles) late on Tuesday, adding that a light rain shower overnight had not done enough to impede the flames.

Fort McMurray lies in the western province of Alberta, where conditions are tinder dry. "Active fire behavior is expected today but should be less than yesterday, thanks to cooler temperatures and weaker winds," the Alberta Wildfire service said in a statement.

"Winds from the northwest at 10 km/h are expected today, which should push the fire away from Fort McMurray." Firefighters will work to establish a containment line and helicopters and air tankers will continue to drop water and retardant on the active edges of the fire, it said.

Around 6,000 people in four southwestern suburbs closest to the blaze were told to evacuate on Tuesday, and highways out of the city in the western province of Alberta soon became clogged. Fort McMurray is the hub for Canada's oil sands output. A huge wildfire in 2016 forced the evacuation of 90,000 residents and shut in more than 1 million barrels per day of output.

"Nothing can prepare you," said Fort McMurray resident Aleks Mortlock, who also had to leave in 2016. "Still the same anxiety, same things going through your mind, and this time, I have kids to worry about," he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. "They don't really understand."

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which includes Fort McMurray, said night vision-equipped aircraft dropped a total of around 116,000 gallons (525,000 liters) of water on the blaze overnight. A shower sprinkled 0.3 mm (0.01 inch) of rain on the area, not enough to affect the fire, the authority said. "Fire behavior will be subdued in the morning, with an inversion layer holding the smoke layer close to the ground. This inversion will likely break by noon, and the sun will dry out the fuels that received that precipitation and will be available to burn again this afternoon," it said.

Although fire fighting is primarily the responsibility of the provinces, Ottawa can intervene if need be. A spokesperson for the federal Department of Emergency preparedness said there had so far been no provincial requests for help. (Additional reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa and Saadeq Ahmed in Toronto; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Josie Kao)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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