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Westerners prep for major wildfire battle

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Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Saturday, July 12, 2014, 11:52 AM -

It's all hands on deck in Alberta, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, as wildfire season gets going with a vengeance.

Firefighters are streaming west to prepare for, or battle, existing wildfires, and to try keep a lid on new blazes before they spread too far.

The Northwest Territories has been struggling with wildfires this season, most sparked by lightning, with the daily cost reportedly reaching as much as $1 million.

The fires have been so enormous and so severe that the smoke has stretched as far as Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta, according to this source.

They've been so numerous, and have spread so easily, due to a long stretch of unseasonably dry weather across much of Western Canada, with many communities' rainfall totals well below average.

The dry weather is causing major problems in Alberta, with an enormous fire near Red Earth, north of Slave Lake, burning out of control and expected to grow larger thanks to continued dry weather.

Around 100 firefighters and nine helicopters are struggling to contain the fire, which is threatening a gas plant and a wildlife observation station, both of which have been evacuated.

Of the other wildfires burning in the province, one set of flames near Rocky Mountain House has prompted authorities to restrict all access to the forests in the region.

That fire covers around 57 square kilometres, but there are no residential homes in the region.

Another fire in neighbouring British Columbia near Tumbler Ridge is in danger of pilling over into Alberta. It's already forced the evacuation of around 200 oil and gas workers in the area.

Elsewhere in British Columbia, authorities have requested 21 additional firefighters to bolster the ranks as it prepares for similarly hot and dry conditions.

With files from the Canadian Press. Thumbnail photo credit: NWTFire.


MORE HOT WEATHER COMING: The west is soon to see rising temperatures. Get the full details from meteorologist Monica Vaswani.


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