Canada Takes Preventative Measures To Avoid Second Year Of Disastrous Wildfires

By Zainab Calcuttawala

Canada is taking preventative measures to avoid the wildfires in northern Alberta that caused more than a quarter of the country’s oil output to be shut down last year, according to a new Reuters report.

The fire, which began in May 2016, destroyed livelihoods as it travelled through Fort McMurray, burning down a tenth of all homes in the city of 88,000. Over a million barrels of crude output suffered from a forced shutdown as well.

This year’s wet spring will reduce wildfire risk in the North American country, but Fort McMurray still added eight new firefighters to its payroll. The city has also begun to preemptively burn off flammable vegetation as most oil projects are located in the middle of dense forests that could fuel another massive blaze.

“Burning light fuels like dry grass started a month earlier than normal (this year),” said fire captain Damian Asher, who lost his home in last year’s fires.

Suncor Energy, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. and Royal Dutch Shell were amongst the companies that halted production for weeks due to last May’s catastrophe, hurting the bottom line further during bearish markets.

“We can get smoked out pretty easily,” said Will Gibson from Syracuse Canada. “The flames didn’t reach us last year but the smoke was pretty intense.”

The economic cost of the disaster was “unquantifiable,” federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said last year. “[It will be] far-reaching and deep,” he predicted

Key industrial buildings in Fort McMurray avoided fire damage because of their construction. Industrial buildings often have metal clad roofs and siding as opposed to houses with flammable asphalt shingles on top and vinyl siding on exterior walls. They are usually spaced a significant distance from each other to allow for parking lots, storage yards, and loading and unloading room for big trucks.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

 

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