No return date, Fort McMurray evacuees will have to be patient | Forest fires in Canada

No return date has yet been announced for Fort McMurray residents forced to evacuate their homes, despite the rainy weather. They can, however, be reassured: authorities have not reported any damage or house burglary, indicating that an RCMP team is watching over their property.

Friday, during the update on the fire burning near Fort McMurray, provincial authorities did not want to advance a return date for the 6,600 residents who had to evacuate their homes.

Although favorable weather conditions continue to facilitate the work of firefighters, Josée St-Onge, spokesperson forAlberta Wildfireexplains that many parameters must be analyzed before making such a decision.

This includes taking into consideration the progress made on the ground and the weather forecasts for the days and weeks to come.

We know that weather conditions in Alberta can change very quickly. Once the rain clears and the sun returns, the intensity level of a fire can increase very quickly.

A quote from Josée St-Onge, Alberta Wildfire

We will give more details [à ce sujet] over the next few daysshe adds.

The day before, Josée St-Onge had explained that flames burning underground are difficult to extinguish and that, in some cases, it can take months. We don’t want to make assumptions, this is a long-term job, and this wildfire will be a reality for weeks and months.

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Josée St-Onge, spokesperson for Alberta Wildfire, says evacuees will have more details in the coming days regarding when they might return home.

Photo: Radio-Canada

Jody Butzthe fire chief, agreed on Thursday, declaring that it is not certain that the rain, which has affected the region since Wednesday and which is expected to continue until Monday, is sufficient to allow residents to return earlier than expected.

Therefore, the evacuation order remains in force for four districts of the city, namely Prairie Creek, Beacon Hill, Abasand And Grayling Terrace.

The other communities of Saprae Creekof Gregoire Lake EstatesFort McMurray First Nation 468 and Anzac remain on evacuation alert, meaning they are ready to leave the city at any time.

Jody Butz specified that the school boards of Catholic schools and public schools located in neighborhoods not covered by the evacuation order have set the resumption of classes in their respective establishments for Tuesday, May 21.

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The RCMP said a team is conducting patrols to ensure public safety and monitor evacuated homes.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Samantha Samson

The evacuated houses monitored by the RCMP

Jody Butz said that, during this time, a team of 40 members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is conducting regular patrols to ensure public safety and monitor evacuated homes.

The day before, he also assured that the evacuated properties will not be damaged by the preventive work of the firefighters. The latter installed sprinklers around the houses to protect them from the flames.

Fire crews are working to clear debris that could cause a spark, while spraying homes and businesses with fire retardant.

>>An Alberta firefighter speaks on camera, May 16, 2024.>>

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Jody Butz, fire chief for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, assures evacuees that their properties will remain intact until they return home.

Photo: Radio-Canada

The fire ban remains

Josée St-Onge recalled that, although the precipitation helped slow the progression of the fire, the total ban on outdoor fires remains in force in the region, as does the ban on all-terrain vehicles.

Furthermore, as the May long weekend marks the unofficial start of the summer camping season, the provincial Ministry of Forestry and Parks emphasizes that firefighters fighting fires in the north of the province need help from the public.

A key part of preventing wildfires during the camping season is following fire bans.

A quote from Alberta Forestry and Parks

The Ministry reminds that several regions of the province are currently subject to total or partial fire bans.

Campers are therefore invited to check beforehand the status of fire bans in the leisure area of ​​their choice.

>>A sprinkler sprays water on trees, Fort McMurray, May 16, 2024.>>

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Sprinklers are installed around houses to protect them from flames.

Photo: Radio-Canada

The area of ​​the fire revised downwards

According to the correction indicated in the last update, the fire now covers an area of ​​19,582 hectares, therefore a little less than the 19,820 hectares of the day before.

The blaze was still about 5.5 km from the city, and 4.5 km from the Highway 63 intersection.

In all, 224 firefighters, 22 helicopters and 57 heavy equipment are working to bring it under control.

Because there is no road access to the blaze, crews must be flown by helicopter to the fire line, authorities said, adding that heavy equipment operators will continue to work on the blaze. -fire southwest of the city.

Additionally, the cause of the fire is under investigation.

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