All eyes were on Fort McMurray one year ago Wednesday as a suspected man-made fire 15-kilometres away began to destroy homes in Canada’s costliest disaster in history.
The fire, known as “The Beast”, burned down 24-hundred structures in Fort McMurray, and forced the evacuation of the entire community. The damage done by the blaze had a price tag of over 3-point-5 billion dollars in Fort McMurray.
Two weeks later, that fire spread to Saskatchewan, and Operations Manager at the Provincial Fire Centre in Saskatchewan, Dennis Trueman, says they sent over 160 staff to help contain and extinguish the portion of the fire that was jumping over the border.
Despite the large numbers, it took a month to extinguish the fire in Saskatchewan.
“We were able to assist them with a team,” said Trueman. “Working directly under Alberta, through the course of the fire, we had approximately 160 staff over on that side. We helped look after the fire primarily on the Saskatchewan side of the border.”
As for this year in Saskatchewan, Trueman says their wildfire response team is ready for the season to start, and they are expecting around 400 wildfires throughout the summer.
Trueman says the wildfires depend on a wide variety of factors, from run-off to temperatures, water table levels and the overall forest fuel conditions. He says it’s difficult to predict exactly how many fires they will be fighting due to the vast variables.
Still, Trueman says about half of wildfires are man-made, so he says you should check local conditions and take all precautions if you choose to light a fire.
He says you are responsible for the fire and are liable for damages and supression costs if that fire spreads.