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Out of control wildfire burns in Alberta

Dropping water on the fire
Dropping water on the fire

Lisa Varano, staff writer

June 4, 2011 — The weather is not helping the wildfire situation in northern Alberta.

Thick smoke rises
Thick smoke rises

An out of control wildfire in northern Alberta that has prompted evacuations and burned at least 350,000 hectares is challenging firefighters from across the country.

Strong winds are blowing heavy smoke from the Richardson backcountry fire towards an oilsands site north of Fort McMurray. Non-essential workers have evacuated the Albian oilsands site.

Hundreds of firefighters and helicopters, along with air tankers and heavy equipment, are facing difficult weather conditions as they battle the wildfire.

“We're just not getting the weather that we'd like to see in that part of the province. Obviously, we haven't seen any real precipitation. There's none expected in the coming days,” says Anastasia Drummond, a wildfire information officer for Alberta Sustainable Resource Development.

“So we're certainly being challenged by this fire, but we're putting a lot of resources on it, and hope to bring it under control as soon as we can.”

Burned home in Slave Lake
Burned home in Slave Lake

Drummond says firefighters have come to support Alberta from across the country -- including B.C., Manitoba, Ontario, Northwest Territories, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

The province has also hired Martin Mars, called the largest waterbomber in the world, to fight northern wildfires. The waterbomber was due in Alberta this weekend.

Last month, an out of control wildfire in northern Alberta caused the evacuation of the town of Slave Lake, which suffered widespread damage.

With files from The Canadian Press

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