Minimize Fort McMurray wildfire, Alberta, Canada

At the start of May 2016, a wildfire began in the province of Alberta, Canada, southwest of the city of Fort McMurray. On 3 May the fire, rapidly growing in size and intensity, reached the city, prompting an evacuation of its 90,000 residents.

Throughout May the wildfire continued to grow, despite the best efforts of hundreds of firefighters and aid from the military. Dry conditions and high temperatures, combined with strong winds, made it difficult for the firefighters to control the blaze, and other local communities were also evacuated.

By the start of June, the wildfire covered an area of 580,000 hectares, but the growth of the fire has now reportedly stopped and efforts to extinguish the wildfire are ongoing.

There were fears that much of Fort McMurray would be destroyed by the fire, but initial assessments showed that only approximately 10% of the city had suffered, and some residents are being allowed to return to the city, where it is safe to do so.

This SPOT-7 image, acquired on 06 May 2016, shows the early days of the wildfire. Fort McMurray is close to the north-west from the edge of this image, and multiple plumes of smoke from the fires are visible. The high resolution image even detects some of the flames in a fire burning close to the centre of the image.

View the full resolution image.

Credit: Airbus Defence and Space 2016

Fort McMurray wildfire

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