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AEMA updates fire situation: no significant growth

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7
AEMA updates fire situation: no significant growth

Alberta Wildfire Manager Chad Morrison. Photo by Chris Vandenbreekel, Mix News.


Cooler temperatures and damper conditions are helping firefighting efforts in Fort McMurray.

That from Alberta Wildfire Manager Chad Morrison this morning at a press conference to update the media on the fire situation.

Morrison says there’s been no significant rain yet, but crews are seeing success in protecting areas.

He adds there’s also been no significant growth of the wildfire or hotspots near the oil sands or community; the fire is still around 500 thousand hectares.

Morrison says they’ll be adding a thousand more firefighters during the next two weeks; many will be from Alberta, some from the rest of Canada, and if resources are exhausted, then they will reach out to international resources.

He added they expect to hold the fire in place this weekend and will be putting in more dozer guards to make it safer for fire crews.

Managing Director of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency Shane Schreiber says the retrieval of abandoned vehicles is resuming today. Details can be found here.

Schreiber was asked about incidents of people using fake IDs to pose as McMurrayites; he says the RCMP is investigating a handful of incidents of people trying to claim benefits meant for those affected by the wildfire.

As for gas hook-ups, Schreiber says crews have re-evaluated their methods for gas restoration and are continuing the process.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Alberta Dr. Karen Grimsrud says air quality is still an issue in the community and fluctuates dramatically. As of the time of the press conference this morning, the air quality was good, but is expected to worsen throughout the day.

Grimsrud says worker health in Fort McMurray is protected by provincial labour laws and standards are being met.

She adds pollution can spike unexpectedly and ash and soot can cause issues and those with breathing difficulties, heart conditions, and pregnant women should not return to Fort McMurray during early re-entry.

Grimsrud says the information is for McMurrayites to make an informed decision on when to return.

Although the fire ban is now lifted for most of the province, it remains for the Lac La Biche and Fort McMurray forest areas.

511 Alberta indicates Highway 881 from the junction of Highway 63 to kilometre marker 280 south of Anzac is restricted to essential services only.

Highway 63 is closed from eight kilometres south of Fort McMurray except for essential services; a permit must be obtained from RCMP at the blockade.

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