Even if the Fort McMurray area gets rain, it will reportedly be weeks and weeks before the fire is put out.
The massive wildfire continues to grow, now reaching 101,000 hectares in size.
“With the nature of this fire, and the dangerous conditions we have, no size of firebreak would hold this fire from doing anything. This fire’s jumped the Athabasca River, which is over a kilometer wide. It has not only challenged firefighters, there’s no tankers that we can put at this thing to stop it at this point,” says Chad Morrison with Alberta Wildfire.
Rather, resources are being poured into efforts to protect the city. The fire grew further to the southeast last night and reached Anzac, and so far 12 structures have been destroyed, but for the most part, crews were able to keep it at bay in that area, as well as defending the Nexen Long Lake facility.
As well, the Alberta government will be providing $100,000 in emergency funding for the fire evacuees. Cash cards of $1250 will be given to adults and $500 for dependents; a total of 80,000 expected to be given out.
Other positives for the current situation is that the change in winds is expected to cause the fire to move northeast, away from the city, towards the Forest Protection Area, which is especially good news for the communities of Anzac, Gregoire Lake and area, and the Nexen Long Lake facility.
Yesterday, crews were able to move the 7,000 or so people to the south by air, who had initially evacuated to the oil and gas camps in the north. 5500 more are planned to be flown out today, and another 500 should move by RCMP and Department of National Defense convoys in vehicles.
In order to avoid any resources being taken away from the wildfire, a fire ban has been implemented across the province. Premier Rachel Notley is also asking Albertans to avoid heading into the woods unnecessarily.
“We’re asking people, who might otherwise be recreationally planning to go out into the forest on the weekend, to rethink that. Off-road vehicles can sometimes inadvertently spark a fire when we have the kind of fire conditions that we have now.”