Cool weather, fire ban bolsters firefighting efforts
The cool wet weather may not be what Albertans hoping to enjoy the extra day off were looking for, but it's a boon to fire crews working to gain the upper hand in parts of the province.
The Victoria Day long weekend is seen by some as an unofficial kick-off to summer, complete with camping, bonfires and spending more time outdoors.
This year, with the cool soggy weather keeping many indoors and a fire ban preventing the fire pit from heating up – those itching to get outside and enjoy the beginning of summer might have been less than impressed.
It's not keeping everyone at home on the couch though, a few are even venturing into the wilderness to go camping.
"I don't mind at all," camper Rob Adams told CTV News Monday. "[I] get an escape from the city."
Adams and other campers know the cooler weather is serving another purpose as well, and it could help fire crews battling wildfires across the province.
"Hopefully we can get some rain up there and they can get things under control," Craig Nelson said. "Move some of this up there."
Officials say the rain hasn't made it up to areas struck by out of control fires, but dropping temperatures are helping efforts.
"When we start to see cooler weather and higher humidity we don't have as active fire behaviour," Rob Harris, a spokesman for Alberta Wildfire Operations said. "It also helps limit the amount of smoke coming off these fires, so crews are able to get into places where it may not have been safe a few days ago."
Fire crews are pulling out all the stops to fight wildfires across Alberta; with 150 helicopters, 32 air tankers and 2000 firefighters on the front lines.
With only seven out of a current total of 43 fires listed as out of control in the province, crews are getting the upper hand.
However, three out of control fires are burning near Fort McMurray, and the other four continue to burn near Slave Lake.
Crews fighting the blazes near Fort McMurray will have to wait for a break in the weather, as there is no precipitation expected in the north east part of the province this week.
With files from Kevin Armstrong