With the Fort McMurray wildfire set to reach the Saskatchewan border, provincial crews are readying for a fight three weeks in the making.
On Monday, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said that the wildfire had grown to more than 3,500 square kilometres – nearly the size of Prince Albert National Park – as it nears the Saskatchewan border.
As of 2 p.m. Monday, the fire was about five kilometres from the border.
The Saskatchewan government says while the fire is expected to reach the border, it’s difficult to know exactly when that could be. When it does reach the border, it will still be more than 40 kilometres from any Saskatchewan community.
As of Wednesday morning, the wildfire had stabilized somewhat, remaining about five kilometres from the provincial border.
Kevin Murphy is the assistant deputy minister of resource management for the wildfire management with the Saskatchewan Government. During a media update at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, he said plans are in place to deal with anything that may come our way.
“We have mobilized the ground firefighting teams in La Loche at the fire base there and have continued to deploy air assets from Buffalo Narrows onto the eastern flank of the fire,” he explained.
There are also a number of lakes in the area where the fire will enter Saskatchewan – something that will likely help firefighters trying to battle the blaze.
La Loche is the closest community to the fire zone, but Murphy said the flames are not the biggest concern right now.
“We do not perceive a significant risk from fire to the community, smoke is our main concern from this fire at this time,” he said.
The air-quality in the northwest region of the province is ranked between three to six, with 10 being the worst.
“We would ask people to be cautious coming into the long weekend with campfires or with any fire that they might be using,” warned Duane McKay, fire commissioner for the province.
Saskatchewan crews are already helping fight the Fort McMurray fire in Alberta.
As of Wednesday, there were six wildfires burning in Saskatchewan. So far this year, there have been 146.