Minor relief is in store for crews battling raging wildfires in Alberta and British Columbia as limited rainfall is expected into next week.
Extreme heat and dry weather fueled the fires in northwestern Canada this week.
The Fort McMurray fire began on Sunday and has grown to over 100,000 hectares (386 square miles), officials said on Thursday evening. The ferocious blaze forced the entire town's population of over 80,000 to evacuate. Many residents documented their harrowing escape on social media.
May and June are typically the worst months of the year for grassfires, Edmonton Fire Rescue Service Chief Ken Block said.
With temperatures reaching into the upper 20s to lower 30s Celsius (upper 80s to near 90 degrees Fahrenheit) and no measurable rainfall reported in the last week, this May has proved to be no exception.
There are several wildfires burning in British Columbia as well.
These fires range from 50 hectares to over 10,000 hectares (less than a half of a square mile to 38 square miles) and are in varying levels of containment. The Beaton Airport Road fire is the largest, having burned over 10,000 hectares at 85 percent containment as of Friday morning.
"Weather conditions should become more favorable for firefighting efforts in northern Alberta, including the Fort McMurray area, next week," AccuWeather Canadian Weather Expert Brett Anderson said. "Much cooler conditions will return to the region, which will also result in an increase in relative humidity."
"Unfortunately, I do not see any potential for significant rainfall in the Fort McMurray area through the middle of next week," Anderson said.
Windy conditions are also expected to return to the Fort McMurray region on Sunday afternoon. West-southwest winds will gust as high as 20 to 40 km/hr (15 to 15 mph). While the lower temperatures and increase in humidity will provide some minor relief, the lack of rain and stronger winds may prove to be counteractive.
There may be some minor relief for the British Columbia region as a storm is expected to track into the region over the weekend. This storm could produce 5 to 15 mm (0.2 to 0.6 of an inch) of rainfall to the fire-stricken regions of northeastern British Columbia Saturday night and Sunday, Anderson said.
Despite the lack of rainfall for Fort McMurray, the drop in highs from the upper 20s C to the teens (low 80s to low 60s F) will aid firefighters working to contain the fire.
According to this Alberta officials, more than 1,110 firefighters are using 145 helicopters, 138 pieces of heavy equipment and 22 air tankers to battle the fires.
Smoke from the wildfires has spread into the U.S., reaching as far as the Carolinas.