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RMWB and AAF give updates on fires, evacuations; bans OHVs on back country trails

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7
RMWB and AAF give updates on fires, evacuations; bans OHVs on back country trails

Smoke billows over wildfire that has burned 2,600 hectares of land west of Fort McMurray // Lauren O'Hare - Harvard Broadcasting

UPDATE (9:55 a.m.)

Agriculture and Forestry Area Information Officier Lynn Daina told Mix News that the wildfire south-west of town has expanded to the west, reaching a total size of 2,600 hectares. Last night at 5:30 p.m. officials had put the size of the fire at 1,285 hectares.

Daina added that crews were able to almost complete digging of a fire break ahead of the north-eastern edge of the fire, which is mean to help prevent the blaze from reaching Beacon Hill and Abasand. Winds are expected to come out of the south-west this afternoon, pushing the fire north-east towards the fire break. In addition to the winds, the temperature is forecast at 30°C for the afternoon, creating “extreme fire conditions” according to R.E.S. Fire Chief Darby Allen.

UPDATE (9:30 a.m.)

As of 7:15 a.m. this morning, Alberta Forestry is reporting a little more than 1,200 hectares has been burned in the fire south-west of the city and add it’s still deemed “out of control.”

The landfill remains closed as a precaution to minimize risk to staff and customers and the RMWB is asking residents to only put out their black bins for regular collection this week.

Another press conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. Mix 103.7 and 100.5 Cruz FM will carry the conference live on-air.

UPDATE (5:10 a.m.)

Late last night the RMWB released its most recent map of the fire south-west of the city.

Briefing_Overview11x17_1100pm

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At a press conference this afternoon Mayor Melissa Blake and representatives from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry updated the community on the fire situation in Fort McMurray.

Residents of Prairie Creek are able to return to their homes after the mandatory evacuation order was lifted for the neighbourhood. The area is still under a shelter in place advisory, along with a voluntary evacuation in place. The same conditions are in place for Gregoire.

Centennial Trailer Park remains under a mandatory evacuation order, with adjacent businesses also affected.

Firefighters have continued to hold the fire approximately 1.2 km west of Highway 63 and Airport Road, with the fire not crossing Hangingstone River.

AAF advises that if it’s safe, heavy equipment will be working on the ground throughout the night to construct a fire break ahead of the north and eastern edges of the fire to help protect properties.

Air quality continues to be a potential risk to residents of the Gregoire area and is subject to wind conditions. Wind is predicted out of the south-east in the morning and south-west in the afternoon, with extreme fire conditions predicted throughout the day tomorrow.

The RMWB has updated all electronic message boards in Fort McMurray to say “No ATVs or OHVs on back-country trails” and has also barricaded the entrance to the cell tower of the south-west corner of Abasand and the trails at the staging area of Abasand.

The landfill remains closed as a precaution to minimize risk to staff and customers and the RMWB will be advising on potential changes to garbage route pick-up dates when available.

The north fire is still being held with access restrictions having been lifted, and it’s business as usual in the Taiganova Industrial Area.

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