Rain stalls wildfire near Canadian oil city

By Thomson Reuters May 16, 2024 | 10:18 AM

By Jesse Winter

FORT MCMURRAY, ALBERTA (Reuters) – A large wildfire near the Canadian oil sands city of Fort McMurray stalled overnight and was not expected to advance on Thursday during wet weather, the local authority said on Thursday.

The region received rain for a few hours through the night and the forecast for the next few days is for more precipitation, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo said in a statement. The fire stayed about 5.5 km (3.4 miles) from the landfill on the city’s southern outskirts where crews are working to establish a containment line.

“Fire behavior will be subdued today,” the municipality, which includes Fort McMurray, said.

A smaller, separate wildfire that had ignited to the city’s north was also being held and not creeping closer, the municipality said.

Fort McMurray is the hub for most of Canada’s oil output. A huge wildfire in 2016 forced the evacuation of 90,000 residents, burned down 2,400 buildings and idled more than 1 million barrels per day of production.

The region has rain in its forecast every day until Monday, according to Environment Canada, though there is also a risk of thunderstorms and lightning that can ignite new fires.

Around 6,600 people in four suburbs closest to the blaze were told to evacuate on Tuesday. Residents who have left are not able to return until May 21 at the earliest.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa, Editing by Franklin Paul and Rod Nickel)