close
close

Lightning sparks more forest fires in northern Alberta, firefighters face another difficult day

Lightning sparks more forest fires in northern Alberta, firefighters face another difficult day

Temperatures are dropping slightly in central and northern Alberta, and firefighters are still battling numerous out-of-control wildfires there, including several new fires in the Fort McMurray forest area sparked by an overnight thunderstorm.

Firefighters are managing to contain the spread of the largest fire in the Cattail Lake Complex, which is raging eight kilometers northeast of Suncor’s Firebag manufacturing site and about 70 kilometers northeast of Fort McMurray and covers 28,000 hectares.

But the front lines are facing another day of harsh conditions, with high temperatures and low humidity, Alberta Wildfire said in an update. “The forecast also shows that we will experience the strongest winds tonight between about 4 and 8 p.m., and that is also when we will likely see fire spread.”

Environment Canada forecasts temperatures to reach 28°C before falling again to a high of 21°C on Friday.

By Wednesday, Alberta’s largest fire had spread to 39,955 hectares and forced residents to evacuate Garden River, Alberta, about 800 kilometres north of Edmonton in Wood Buffalo National Park. The fire was sparked by lightning strikes.

Temperatures in the Garden River area are expected to be a few degrees cooler today, reaching a high of 26°C. While a possible thunderstorm could bring much-needed moisture, it will also bring lightning strikes, increasing the risk of new wildfires.

The firefighters used a method called "ignition" thereby removing available fuel from the forest fire to prevent it from spreading into the surrounding vegetation. This method is often used to "bring" to bring the forest fire to a place where the emergency services can anchor it at a natural fault, such as a road. (July 10, 2024, 8:00 p.m. on EWF061).The firefighters used a method called "ignition" thereby removing available fuel from the forest fire to prevent it from spreading into the surrounding vegetation. This method is often used to "bring" to bring the forest fire to a place where the emergency services can anchor it at a natural fault, such as a road. (July 10, 2024, 8:00 p.m. on EWF061).

Firefighters in the Edson forest area were busy removing existing fuel Wednesday evening to prevent a wildfire from spreading to surrounding vegetation. (Submitted by Alberta Wildfire)

In the Edson forest area, where Alberta Wildfires has classified the forest fire danger as extreme, Environment and Climate Change Canada on Thursday issued a severe weather warning for Brazeau County, about 170 kilometres southwest of Edmonton, near the Alberta communities of Cynthia and Lodgepole.

The warning noted that the storm could bring hail, heavy rain and strong winds.

Several out-of-control fires are raging in the Edson forest area, including one about 18 kilometers northeast of Cynthia, which is estimated to be about 74 hectares in area.

“Heavy equipment worked all night to put a containment line around the perimeter. Crews returned to the fire line this morning. A big thank you to all the heavy equipment operators who make up our wildfire family,” Alberta Wildfire wrote in an update Thursday.

A fire ban is in effect throughout Alberta’s protected forest, which includes large parts of northern Alberta and the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

Under this law, all fire permits issued by the Government of Alberta are suspended or revoked and all outdoor wood fires are banned, including at campgrounds and backyard fire pits.