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Alberta officials to provide Thursday morning update on Fort McMurray wildfire

An Alberta government spokesperson says provincial officials plan to hold a news conference at 9:30 a.m. local time on Thursday in order to provide citizens with the latest information regarding an out-of-control wildfire burning in the northern part of the province.

The MWF-O17 fire has already forced thousands of people in the Fort McMurray area to leave their homes this week.

Global News plans to livestream the news conference online and it can be viewed in this post.

Rain could be seen falling in Fort McMurray, Alta., on Thursday morning although a smoky haze remained in the air. In an update posted on the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo website at 8:30 a.m., officials noted the fire had decreased in size overnight, down to about 19,820 hectares. It was believed to have been about 21,000 hectares in size on Wednesday night.

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The fire remains approximately 4.5 kilometres from the intersection of Highway 63 and Highway 881 and approximately 5.5 kilometres away from an area landfill.

“Overnight aerial operations took place until 4 a.m. with night vision-equipped aircraft, with 31,000 gallons of water dropped,” officials said. “The focus was the eastern edge of the wildfire.

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“Ground operations continued building containment line from the landfill. This fire line construction will continue as a 24-hour operation to complete the containment line.”

RMWB officials said the temperature in the area was expected to reach a high of 11 C on Thursday and that there was a risk of thundershowers that could provide up to 15 mm of rain to the area.

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“Winds are expected to be out of the east with speeds of 30km/h gusting to 50km/h in the morning,” officials said.

“Fire behaviour will be subdued today. The next few days show a similar forecast with forecast precipitation values varying from 20 to 80mm of total precipitation.”

Another blaze burning in the region, the MWF-024 fire north of the Parsons Creek Interchange, is now classified as being held.

Evacuation order remains in place

Several neighbourhoods in Fort McMurray remain under an evacuation order. So far, about 6,600 people have been forced to leave their homes and have been advised they will likely not be allowed to return until at least Tuesday. That re-entry date could be extended.

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On Wednesday, Premier Danielle Smith reiterated that wildfire evacuees will be eligible after one week to receive $1,250 per adult and $500 per child.

For the latest information on which areas in Alberta are under an evacuation alert or order due to a wildfire, visit the Alberta Emergency Alert website.

For the latest information on road closures in Alberta, including those that are the result of wildfires, visit the 511 Alberta website.

For the latest information on the wildfire status and danger across the province, visit the Alberta Wildfire website.

The latest information on fire advisories, restrictions and bans across the province can be found on the Alberta fire bans website.

More to come…

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