Fire Fighting in Canada

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Alaska, Ontario crews to help fight Alberta fire

July 17, 2012, Zama City, Alta. – Firefighters from Alaska and Ontario landed Monday in northern Alberta to help fight a forest fire threatening an isolated hamlet.

July 17, 2012
By The Canadian Press

July 17, 2012, Zama City, Alta. – Firefighters from Alaska and Ontario landed Monday in northern Alberta to help fight a forest fire threatening an isolated hamlet.

Wildfire information officer Heather Hawkins said 11 firefighters from Alaska and eight from Ontario, along with helicopters and other equipment, were joining more than 300 firefighters who have taken shifts battling the blaze, which is 12 kilometres northeast of Zama City.

Some crews arrived last week from the Yukon and New Brunswick.

About 160 residents were forced last Tuesday to leave the community, located about 930 kilometres north of Edmonton.

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They were not being allowed to return home and remained holed up in hotels in High Level, said John Klassen, an official with Mackenzie County.

People from the nearby Dene Tha' First Nation also remained out of their homes. All 408 people on the reserve voluntarily left last week due to smoke. They were also staying in High Level.

The haze from the wildfire – and from another 15 fires burning out of control in the northern part of the province – drifted into Edmonton and into western Saskatchewan late last week.

An air quality advisory issued Friday by Alberta Health Services for the Edmonton area was lifted Monday. But it remained in effect for the northern region.

Hawkins was expecting a shift in hot, dry weather to soon come to the rescue.

"We're expecting some of that rain we've seen in Edmonton to move up into northern Alberta . . . and then more widespread rain Wednesday, which will certainly help the situation."

She said the fire was sparked by lightning, the cause of half of summer forest fires. It has so far destroyed almost 1,300 square kilometres of timber and bush.

Another fire raging 15 kilometres southeast of the hamlet of La Crete has destroyed just over 25 square kilometres of forest. It earlier shut down the busy Mackenzie Highway and a voluntary evacuation was temporarily in place.

Hawkins said that blaze, named the Bear Creek fire, was classified as being held and firefighters had 80 per cent of it contained.

"With the current resources and weather forecasted, we're not expecting it to grow significantly."


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