Fort McMurray wildfire: More BC firefighters to battle blaze which grows to nearly 580,000 hectares

Burnt out trees are shown in Fort McMurray, Alta., in a May 13, 2016, file photo.
Burnt out trees are shown in Fort McMurray, Alta., in a May 13, 2016, file photo. Jason Franson, The Canadian Press

The Fort McMurray wildfire remains out of control and now covers nearly 580,000 hectares – including part of Saskatchewan – according to an update provided by the Alberta government Saturday afternoon.

On Sunday, about 80 additional firefighters are expected to arrive in Alberta from B.C. to help battle the blaze, joining the more than 2,200 firefighters already fighting wildfires across the province.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire: ‘We expect weeks, if not months, fighting this fire’

The B.C. government said four unit crews will arrive in Hinton on Sunday, while an agency representative will follow later in the week.

Officials in B.C. say the current level of fire activity in that province, combined with a decreased forecast for fires, has allowed them to deploy crews to help in both Alberta and Ontario.

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Currently, 2,267 firefighters are either already battling blazes across Alberta or are en route to do so. Over 800 of those firefighters are from out of province, including almost 500 from outside of Canada (298 firefighters from South Africa and 199 from the United States). They are being supported with the help of 95 helicopters, 263 pieces of heavy equipment and 24 air tankers.

The province said with higher humidity in the forecast and the potential for showers, firefighting conditions were expected to improve through the weekend.

According to the Alberta government, work remains on track to begin a voluntary phased re-entry of wildfire evacuees on June 1.

READ MORE: Phased re-entry plan for oilsands camps near Fort McMurray begins

A telephone town hall is scheduled from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, May 30.

For the latest information for Fort McMurray residents displaced by the wildfire, they can click here.

-With files from The Canadian Press.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was originally published on Saturday, May 28, 2016 and based on information provided by the province, said the wildfire had grown to just over 580,000 hectares. The province released new information on Sunday, May 29, 2016 that said a more accurate assessment of the fire’s size had been done, showing it covered 579,946 hectares as of 2 p.m. on May 29, 2016.


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