The fire danger in Fort McMurray reached the extreme level on Friday, a stark contrast from the low to moderate level it was at just three days ago.
“This is how fast it can change,” Global Edmonton’s chief meteorologist Jesse Beyer said.
“With warm temperatures continuing, and no chance of showers until the end of the weekend, this is a situation to keep a close eye on.”
Fire danger is marked by how easy it is to ignite vegetation, how difficult a fire may be to control and how much damage a fire could do, according to Natural Resources Canada.
If a fire started, it could have the potential to spread quickly and be very difficult to control, Natural Resources Canada says.
Fire experts believe the risk to the actual townsite of Fort McMurray is low because last spring’s wildfire burned much of the surrounding forest, leaving little fuel for a potential fire to spread.
Grass fires could still be an issue, but they are less intense and easier to control.
“It’s warm, windy and very dry. So that’s why it’s extreme,” said Mike Flannigan, a professor with the Department of Renewable Resources at the University of Alberta.
“But there won’t be a repeat of the big fire last year. There’s not enough fuel, there’s not the right type of fuel or that kind of intense crown fire that we saw last year because it already burned last year.
“It’ll take 15 to 20 years before the forest recovers enough to see a fire even coming close to what people saw last year near Fort McMurray.”
Wednesday marked one year since the entire Fort McMurray area was evacuated dueto the wildfire now known as the beast.
Temperatures in the Fort McMurray region are expected to reach the mid-20s Friday and cool down to 15 C with potential showers by Sunday.
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— Jesse Beyer (@jessebeyerWX) May 5, 2017