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Rain, cooler weather welcomed by Alberta crews battling wildfires

A look at the wildfire north of Cold Lake, Alberta on Wednesday, May 27, 2015. Credit: Alberta Wildfire Information's Facebook Page

EDMONTON – Cooler weather is helping crews in Alberta battle wildfires as the province shifts more effort to protecting oilsands projects in the northeast.

Scott Long, a government spokesman, says fireguards built to shield facilities operated by Cenovus Energy and Canadian Natural Resources are holding.

Long says the fire in the Cold Lake region had grown to 200-square kilometres in size, with flames about 40 kilometres north of the community.

Earlier this week, Cenovus and CNRL shut down these projects as a safety precaution, sending about 2,000 workers home.

Long says the province is dealing with 42 wildfires, including 10 out of control.

There were no new evacuations and about 4,800 people forced from rural communities in north-central Alberta earlier this week have returned home.

WATCH: Wabasca residents return home after being forced out by wildfire

He says the wildfire outlook remains severe, at least for the next few days.

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Long says overall the situation is improving, with more cool temperatures and possibly some rain in the forecast. But Long warns that Mother Nature can be fickle and one lightning storm could cause new fires.

A fire ban remains in effect across Alberta as 1,700 firefighters work to fight the fires. The province said Thursday afternoon 180 helicopters and 28 airtankers are also involved in the fight. Another 150 firefighters are on their way to Alberta from B.C., Ontario, New Brunswick and Parks Canada.

Albertans are asked to check albertafirebans.ca daily for detailed information about restrictions and locations.

For the latest information on wildfires across the province, visit the Government of Alberta’s website.

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