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Business News/ News / Wildfire Threat to Canada’s Oil-Sands Eases as Rains Approach
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Wildfire Threat to Canada’s Oil-Sands Eases as Rains Approach

Rain in the heart of the Canadian oil-sands region is reducing the threat of a wildfire that prompted an evacuation alert on Friday, while a town near British Columbia’s gas-producing region remained in danger.

Wildfire Threat to Canada’s Oil-Sands Eases as Rains ApproachPremium
Wildfire Threat to Canada’s Oil-Sands Eases as Rains Approach

(Bloomberg) -- Rain in the heart of the Canadian oil-sands region is reducing the threat of a wildfire that prompted an evacuation alert on Friday, while a town near British Columbia’s gas-producing region remained in danger. 

Showers expected on Monday may help contain a 6,600-hectare (16,300-acre) blaze near Fort McMurray, Alberta, according to provincial wildfire spokeswoman Melissa Story. The fire prompted an alert on Friday that put the 70,000 residents of the city — the largest near Canada’s oil-sands operations — on notice that they should be ready to leave if necessary.

Meanwhile, Fort Nelson, British Columbia, was under an evacuation order because of a 5,300-hectare blaze northwest of the town, said Sharon Nickel, a spokeswoman for the province’s wildfire service. Winds are expected to pick up, which may cause the fire to grow. The northern town of about 3,000 people is on the edge of the natural gas producing Montney Formation.

Rising temperatures across western Canada increased wildfire activity in recent days, contributing to poor air quality in Calgary over the weekend. More than 65% of Canada was abnormally parched or in drought at the end of March, threatening another smoke-filled summer. 

Unusually hot and dry weather contributed to Canada’s worst-ever wildfire season last year, darkening skies over New York and prompting Alberta oil and gas drillers to shut the equivalent of as much as 300,000 barrels of oil production a day at points. 

While Fort McMurray was unscathed last year, blazes burned down large sections of the city eight years ago, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate and temporarily shutting more than 1 million barrels a day of oil output.  

The current fire near Fort McMurray isn’t near any major oil-sands mines, but is in the vicinity of Athabasca Oil Corp.’s Hangingstone well site. The company didn’t immediately respond to questions on the status of the facility. 

A 1,300-hectare fire near Grande Prairie, Alberta, was 80% contained and not threatening infrastructure, Alberta Wildfire’s Story said. 

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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Published: 13 May 2024, 11:10 PM IST
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