Firefighters remain hard at work trying to bring “The Beast” under control, however, the weather could prove troublesome over the weekend.
Wildfire Officer Barry Shellian tells the Alberta Morning News that as the temperatures rise, the blaze grows.
“Last few days we had cloud over the McMurray fire which has really kept, until now, the behaviour down.” says Shellian. “Now we’re getting some blue skies and increasing temperature, and we have seen some significant growth in the northeast portion of that fire.”
— RMWB (@RMWoodBuffalo) May 14, 2016
Shellian says the fire has grown to 241,457 hectares in size, and is about 15 kilometres from the Saskatchewan border. But, he says, if it does cross the border, firefighters will be there waiting for it.
“We’re always looking at where the fire is going.” he says. “And we’re working on the flanks, continuing building our dozer guards, and of course having those discussions with the Saskatchewan firefighters on management of this wildfire.”
Meanwhile Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee says they have a team working around the clock to get Fort McMurray ready for evacuees to return. Larivee tells NewsTalk 770’s Danielle Smith, crews are working to get the critical infrastructure repaired.
“Adequate healthcare for the community, we need to make sure grocery stores are up and running, we need to make sure everybody has access to safe electricity and gas lines,” she says. “And certainly we’re looking at the best way to get people back into the community as soon as possible.”
Larivee says they continue to be presented with challenges.
“One of the biggest ones was we actually had an eight day period after the initial evacuation in which the fire was live, and our primary focus was fighting that fire and also evacuating the remaining people,” she explains. “So Monday was really the first day we could even begin to do any kind of assessment of the damage.”
Larivee says some of the issues aren’t obvious ones; like how the hospital is still standing, but they discovered some of its systems were compromised.
She says they don’t want to give a hard timeline on the return yet, because they don’t want to get people’s hopes ups, and then miss the target date.