Alberta: Wildfire situation stays at "extreme" without rain

Bone dry conditions, rising heat, and stiff winds make for tough work for firefighters this week.

As the thousands of people remain out of their homes in northern Alberta on account of a massive, out of control wildfire, the weather wasn't much of an ally Tuesday, and it's not looking much better for Wednesday -- though the mayor of the largest evacuated town says there may be a time table for people to return to their homes.

The Chuckegg Creek fire prompted some 5,000 people to evacuate the town of High Level and surrounding communities on Monday last week, and in the week since has ballooned to 130,000 hectares.

Tuesday was yet another hot and bone-dry day, and Wednesday is set to be around 30°C once again, with no rain in sight. Worse, winds will pick up slightly to the 40-50 km/h range, contributing to the fire's spread.

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Despite these troublesome developments, the prospects for the evacuated communities look better than it sounds.

Some 168 firefighters have been actively working to minimize the risk of ignition within the urban area itself, taking advantage of earlier lulls by laying out a network of sprinklers, and moving to protect homes by preemptively removing flammable material such as lawn debris.

As well, though fire danger remains extreme, the fire, which is burning some three kilometres distant, has not not been moving in the direction of the empty towns. More than 400 firefighters and 28 helicopters have been working on containing the flames, according to Global News.

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Temperatures will decline somewhat later in the week, and Weather Network meteorologist Matt Grinter says the longer range includes a weak trough that could bring some rain showers that could help matters.

High Level Mayor Crystal McAteer told the Edmonton Journal that it was 'only a matter of time' before the evacuees can return, potentially as soon as the coming weekend.