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More aircraft, ground crews fighting wildfire near Fort McMurray

Smoke from a wildfire fills the sky in downtown Fort McMurray looking southeast on Sunday, May 1, 2016. An out-of-control wildfire has forced about 700 people from their homes near Fort McMurray in northern Alberta.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS-Greg Halinda
May 02, 2016 - 11:30 AM

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. - Aircraft dropping fire retardant are working with crews on the ground to protect homes from an uncontrolled wildfire close to Fort McMurray in northern Alberta.

The province has deployed two air-tanker groups and eight helicopters to fight the flames as crews and heavy equipment try to contain the fire that is just over a kilometre from the city's south end.

The one-square-kilometre blaze is producing very thick smoke.

Darby Allen, regional fire chief for the Wood Buffalo municipality, says the situation on the fire line is better than it was on Sunday, but conditions could change as temperatures rise and if the wind kicks up.

"I think that we are looking better than we were yesterday," Allen said Monday.

"We are hopeful that we can stop this fire before it gets into town. We will monitor the weather conditions and fight the fire as aggressively as we can."

About 700 people who were ordered from their homes as a precaution from the Centennial Trailer Park and Prairie Creek neighbourhoods remained out.

Allen said the province was bringing in more aircraft and ground crews to fight the blaze.

The plan was to have air tankers and the helicopters drop water directly on the flames once the smoke cleared a bit.

"We are seeing some bombers flying through laying fire retardant and once the smoke clears the water bombers will go up to put water on the fire," he said. "We are doing OK."

Another blaze on the northern edge of the city called the Diamond Stone Ridge fire was being held.

There were no reports of injuries, but air quality was a concern because of the smoke.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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