Northeastern Alberta wildfire grows to 45,000 hectares

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A wildfire near Fort Chipewyan has grown to nearly 45,000 hectares in size as of July 20. (Alberta Wildfire - image credit)
A wildfire near Fort Chipewyan has grown to nearly 45,000 hectares in size as of July 20. (Alberta Wildfire - image credit)

A northeastern Alberta wildfire sparked by lightning has grown to near 45,000 hectares in size.

The fire, first reported by Alberta Wildfire on July 8, is burning about 21 kilometres north of Fort Chipewyan, but crews say homes and people are not in harm's way.

As of Wednesday, the fire had burned 44,953 hectares.

The fire grew rapidly in 24 hours. As of Tuesday, the fire had burned 28,099 hectares.

Colby Lachance with Alberta Wildfire said there is no threat to the community of Fort Chipewyan, as of Wednesday evening.

She said crews remain confident they are containing the fire and understand its direction.

"There's not really a threat to the community. The wildfire is moving north and east, away from any human life…and therefore has not gotten closer to courtship on or even the airport," Lachance explained.

Firefighters are working to strengthen containment lines, which prevent the fire from spreading south and eastwards.

Meanwhile, other crews have been protecting surrounding structures that could be threatened by the fire, such as pumps, hoses, and sprinkler systems on nearby buildings.

Fortunately on Tuesday, five millimetres of rain doused the fire allowing crews to take more control after a hot week.

"We've seen hot and dry conditions. It was over 30 degrees here and that was what we call a good burning day," Lachance said.

Currently 50 crews and six helicopters are working to put out the massive fire.

There are 43 active wildfires in the province.

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