Wildfire in Strathcona County being held but ‘definitely not under control’: official

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Wildfire in Strathcona County being held but not under control
WATCH ABOVE: A wildfire in Strathcona County flared up on Monday afternoon. More than a dozen firefighters are on the ground and a helicopter is being used to help douse the flames. Quinn Ohler has the latest on the situation – May 14, 2018

The deputy fire chief for Strathcona County Emergency Services says he expects firefighters to be working on a persistent wildfire east of Edmonton throughout the week after it first broke out on Saturday.

The blaze is located in the Strathcona County Wildland Area, south of Township Road 564A and between Range Road 212 and Secondary Highway 830.

“The fire’s being held right now, it’s definitely not under control,” Bob Scott said on Monday, adding 15 firefighters as well as multiple pieces of firefighting apparatuses, including a helicopter, were being used to try and douse the flames.

“I think the guys are getting tired… they’ve been working really hard,” he said. “I think we’ll be able to keep a handle on it.”

While it’s the only wildfire currently burning in Strathcona County, Scott said it’s burning in different areas and spreading, in part, because of weather conditions.

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“As the air’s drying out, the temperature’s warming, it’s increasing the flammability of the fuel,” he said. “[Because of] the winds coming up [and] the temperatures rising, we’re finding the fires are increasing in the area. The fire activity is actually quite intense right now and spreading rapidly with the wind speed.”

Scott estimated the fire has already scorched about 300 hectares of land, however, there are no mandatory evacuation orders. Scott said there was currently no threat to any homes, but pointed out a farmhouse and some outbuildings were under threat on Sunday. He said the blaze burned around the structures thanks to the efforts of firefighters.

READ MORE: Crews gaining upper hand battling 2 grass fires near Bruderheim

Watch below: On May 13, 2018, Julia Wong filed this report about two separate fires near Bruderheim keeping fire crews busy.

Click to play video: 'Bruderheim grass fires'
Bruderheim grass fires

According to Scott, the fire is burning grassland and a variety of trees: spruce, aspen and pine.

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An investigation into the fire is ongoing and Scott said at this point, it’s entirely possible the blaze was caused by a human.

“If there’s no lightning in the area and there’s no other cause like electrical lines that have failed, that sort of thing, then we really look at a human cause.”

A fire advisory has been in place for Strathcona County since May 7. The advisory only allows for recreational fires in covered recreational fire pits, pots, bowls, chimeneas, approved fire pits within campgrounds and parks and propane and natural gas appliances.

READ MORE: Alberta fire season: a list of bans and advisories across the province

Watch below: On May 7, 2018, Vinesh Pratap filed this report about the tinder dry conditions in central Alberta these days.

Click to play video: 'Central Alberta facing dangerously dry conditions'
Central Alberta facing dangerously dry conditions

At the time, county officials said warm temperatures and a lack of precipitation increased the wildfire risk and that fire crews had responded to 10 uncontrolled fires in the county in the two days before the advisory was issued.

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“As you can see, [fires] can jump out of control very quickly and threaten a person’s safety, their own property and the property of others,” Scott said.

On Monday afternoon, firefighters were working to build a break around a forested area in an attempt to contain the fire to where it was currently burning.

READ MORE: Firefighters battle flare-ups at wildfire burning outside of Bruderheim

-With files from Global News’ Quinn Ohler

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