Fort McMurray Fire

The Fort McMurray fire has made a lot of news lately and for good reason.  The entire population of almost 90,000 people was evacuated.  Almost 20 per cent of the city’s homes have been burned to some degree.  The fire is expected to be the most costly natural disaster in Canadian history.

Fort McMurray is in Canada’s so-called tar sand country and more than 20 per cent of Canada’s oil production has been shut down by the fire and the evacuations. Cooler weather has helped firefighters protect the unburned parts pf the city but the fire continues to rage, spreading eastward toward Saskatchewan.

Fires of this size are not unheard-of in the Boreal Forest of central Canada.  Rather, it is the location of this large city within this fire-prone, sparsely-populated region that is unusual. The rapid growth of the fire last week is due to a dry winter and spring and a couple of days of extremely warm, dry, and windy weather.

Meteorologist John Wheeler