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Forest area fire ban, OHV restriction still in place as wildfire danger drops

Alberta Wildfire is assessing when to lift the current fire ban and OHV restriction in the Grande Prairie Forest Area. As of Tuesday evening, they remain in place but Wildfire Information Officer Kelly Burke says they are looking at rainfall amounts and forecasted weather.

“Firefighters appreciate your patience and cooperation.”

Thanks to the recent rain and cooler weather, the wildfire danger in the local forest area has dropped from very high to low. There are currently no out-of-control fires as well.

The Bald Mountain Fire near Grovedale is classified as being held at an estimated 19,435 hectares in size. This means sufficient resources are currently committed and sufficient action has been taken so that the fire is not likely to spread beyond existinf or predetermined boundaries under prevailing and forecasted weather and fire behaviour conditions.

The evacuation order for people south of Grovedale was downgraded to an alert Tuesday.

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The Sturgeon Lake area fires are also being held at 5,752 and 3,869 hectares respectively. It’s noted that as of Tuesday morning, the rain gauge on one recorded 78 millimetres of precipitation, and a second gauge on the other showed 52 millimetres total since Sunday night.

Burke says a patrol shows the rain has subdued all visible fire behaviour. However, she stresses that fires of these sizes and duration will not be extinguished by rain alone.

“Due to the hundreds of hot spots in the ground, when warm and dry weather returns, fire behaviour may become visible again. This is why firefighters on the ground will be needed in the coming weeks to ensure that all the sources of heat, particularly near structures, have been eliminated.”

Burke adds that the wet conditions have made the terrain dangerous for firefighters.

“The blackened ground is slippery, and the dozer guards are almost impracticable for our trucks and machinery. Moreover, the strong winds, associated with the rain, have made the already fragile trees even more dangerous.”

The weather has also made it impossible to use helicopters.

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