Lightning ruled out, Fort McMurray fire likely human-caused
Tuesday, June 14, 2016, 8:20 PM -
The fire that burned approximately 10 per cent of structures in Fort McMurray, Alta., and forced almost 90,000 residents to flee north and south last month, continues to make headlines across the country.
Now, officials are closer to determining the cause of the devastating blaze.
On Tuesday, provincial wildfire investigators further established the Fort McMurray fire was the result of human activity, after ruling out lightning as a probable cause.
RCMP is now appealing to the public for assistance and are investigating if a criminal offense was committed. Travis Fairweather, an Alberta Wildfire information officer, told Reuters there are a number of ways human activity could have sparked the fire, and not all are criminal, including: camp fire use, industry, or a power line malfunction.
Officials are however, also investigating the possibility that arson was committed.
"Wildfire investigators for the province of Alberta have established that the fire was most likely the result of human activity, having ruled out lightning as a probable cause," the RCMP said in a statement.
Police are seeking out anyone who was in the Horse River Trail between April 29 and May 5.
WATCH: A look back at the Fort McMurray fire:
The revelation echos that of Alberta's senior wildfire manager, Chad Morrison, who said earlier this month that, while the fire remains under investigation, it was probably attributable to humans.
"Human-caused really means anything other than lightning. It’s most likely human caused, but we’re continuing to investigate,” Morrison told the newspaper.
Paul Spring, a helicopter pilot with experience fighting fire, seems to agree with Morrison, according to comments made to both the Globe and the Edmonton Journal. Spring told the newspapers the skies were clear the weekend the fire sparked, and no lightning was detected.
"It’s human-related. This is not a natural-caused fire," Spring told the Journal.
The Globe says a report on the fire is due out in about a month.