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Wildfire near Fort McMurray not yet under control, but long weekend rain helping

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The intermittent rain and cool weather continues to help Alberta's firefighters, officials said in an update in Edmonton Thursday morning.

There were still 30 wildfires burning in Alberta's protected forest areas then.

All of the fires have been considered under control or being held since the status of a 20,000-hectare blaze near Fort McMurray was downgraded over the long weekend.

"We recorded more than 45 millimetres of rain on the wildfire outside of Fort McMurray over the weekend, but it doesn't mean our work there is done," Alberta Wildfire's Christie Tucker said during the news conference.

More than 200 firefighters, plus helicopter and heavy equipment operators are still working on the blaze, either strengthening containment lines or extinguishing hot spots.

The Rural Municipality of Wood Buffalo says it will continue to receive support from the province until the blaze is officially under control.

Long weekend campfires lead to wildfire starts

According to Tucker, Alberta Wildfire detected 33 new wildfire starts over the long weekend. All but five were determined to be the result of recreational activity.

The vast majority – 25 – were campfires that had been left unattended in the Calgary area.

"That's alarming. The cost of wildfires is extreme and I think if people realize how much just leaving a campfire unattended could cost to taxpayers, cost to disruption of people's lives, I think that's important to get across to the people of Alberta," said Forestry and Parks Minister Todd Loewen said.

"By and large, the vast majority of Albertans do very well and are very concerned and caring, but there is some carelessness out there. It's unfortunate."

Year at a glance

All of the wildfires are located in the northern half of Alberta; fire bans or advisories remain in place near several communities.

Since the start of the year, wildfires have burned 28,500 hectares of protected forests.

Twenty fires are considered carry-over fires, meaning they ignited before the start of 2024.

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