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Calls over smoke plume tie up 9-1-1 system

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7
Calls over smoke plume tie up 9-1-1 system

Smoke rises in the distance over a view from the Snye on June 6, 2016 // Chris Vandenbreekel - Harvard Broadcasting

A smoke plume north-east of town doesn’t pose a threat to Fort McMurray, but it’s still causing a headache for Regional Emergency Services.

Deputy Fire Chief Brad Grainger said that as of 4:45 p.m. his department had received a whopping 82 calls to 9-1-1 over the distant plume.

“There’s no immediate threat to the urban service area at all,” he said.

Grainger added that calls about smoke plumes that seem far away from the urban service area can be directed toward the RMWB PULSE Line at 780-743-7000, rather than tying up the emergency system. He said 9-1-1 calls should reserved for fires that pose an immediate danger.

“If you see something in the urban service area, call us,” he said. “Stay there, and we’ll get a fire truck out there and we’ll actually take a look at it and manage it right there.”

Grainger noted that smoke plumes are expected to continue through until the fall, and people need to be aware that unless it’s in the city it doesn’t pose a 9-1-1 threat.

“For the next two-to-three months we’ll be seeing huffs of smoke and hot spots everywhere,” he said. “It could be a very long summer.”

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