People like to talk about what an awful year 2020 has been. But 2019 wasn’t so great either. Huge wildfires plagued northern Alberta, including the McMillan Complex of fires northeast of Slave Lake, which grew to over 200,000 hectares in size.
Then there was the Chuckegg Creek fire, which threatened High Level, forcing an evacuation. A whole year and several months went past, and the fires were still rated as active. Under control, for sure, but not out.
Last week, the forest protection folks finally announced that both fires were officially out. For the McMillan fire, Oct. 19 was the big day.
“An aerial infrared scan of the entire wildfire was completed and no hotspots were detected,” says the news release from Alberta Agriculture & Forestry. It continues:
“The size of the wildfire has also been updated to 222,837.20 hectares. This new measurement excludes lakes and unburned areas.
“The McMillan wildfire occurred on May 18th, 2019 at around 2 pm at approximately km 40 on Highway 754 northeast of Slave Lake, Alberta.
“Wildfire Investigators from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry and Investigators from the RCMP’s Forestry Crimes Unit have determined the cause of the wildfire to be arson. If you are a witness to this act or have information, please call the tip line 1-833-999-FIRE.”
Chuckegg Creek, meanwhile, was declared extinguished on Oct. 13. Here’s part of the news release on it, courtesy of Victoria Ostendorf of AA&F:
“This past summer, firefighters extinguished hotspots and lookout observers were on high alert looking for any that might pop up. Wildfire staff utilized aerial infrared scanning to detect any sources of heat. The wet weather also provided relief, as the region saw heavier than usual amounts of rain. This helped to normalize the area drought conditions that had affected the forest fuels for the past five years.
Extinguishing a wildfire of that size and strength is not an easy task, but it is an example of how cooperation between emergency responders and partners can lead to a successful conclusion.”