Chuckegg Creek Fire in Alberta grows to over half a million acres

Will it become a million-acre “gigafire”?

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Map Chuckegg Creek Fire Northern Alberta
Map of the Chuckegg Creek Fire in Northern Alberta at 3:50 a.m. MDT May 30, 2019. The shaded areas represent heat detected by a satellite during the previous seven days.

The Chuckegg Creek Fire in Northern Alberta near the town of High Level was very active over the last 48 hours while being pushed by strong winds. Exhibiting extreme fire behavior, it grew to the south about 11 miles, and while moving 12 miles to the east it crossed Highway 35 and jumped the Peace River both north and south of the ferry crossing on Highway 697.

Alberta Wildfire estimated it has burned 230,000 hectares, or 568,000 acres.

Below is an excerpt from an update by Alberta Wildfire about the Chuckegg Creek Fire, issued May 30, 2019:

The Chuckegg Creek Fire experienced extreme fire behaviour yesterday with significant growth to the south towards Paddle Prairie, across Highway 35 by Highway 697 and spotted across the Peace River. Continued hot and dry conditions along with variable, gusty winds have proved a challenge to firefighting efforts and safety. Municipal firefighters and heavy equipment responded, with structure protection established as possible to the south of the fire. The fire also experienced growth to the west and continued fire activity on the north part of the fire around Watt Mountain.

Firefighters, heavy equipment, and aircraft are assessing the situation given the recent fire growth and will focus on priority areas. Structural protection and municipal firefighters are working to protect values. The weather forecast today anticipates cooler temperatures and higher minimum relative humidity, though winds today are expected to remain gusty and are expected to come primarily from the north.

I believe that the fire started during the week of May 12. It reached the 100,000-acre threshold to become a “megafire” on May 20. Now that it has easily grown to 568,000 acres, I wonder if it will reach a million acres to become a “gigafire”. A bushfire that started October 11, 2018 in Western Australia 120km southeast of Broome burned 880,000 hectares, or 2,174,527 acres.

The weather for the next seven days at the fire’s location will be variable, with a chance of rain on Saturday, Monday, and Thursday of next week, so there will not be many days conducive to explosive fire growth.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

17 thoughts on “Chuckegg Creek Fire in Alberta grows to over half a million acres”

  1. Let’s not forget that merely 3 years ago the Fort McMurray Wildfire was in the process of growing to 1.5 million acres.

    1. Okay, I guess you win! I’d recommend living in the present. What is it with men and size?

    1. Yes they have I work for a fire department and we have already been warned to pack up and be ready to deploy out.

    2. Yes deportation orders have been issued. Assistant fire chief L. Gibney and the hot shot crews will report as soon as the international dimpolmatic forms are released the dc747 have been released with in the last two hours just waiting on points of travel to be signed and then I assistant fire chief L. Gibney and some of our well sought out hot shot teams will report all ready have given orders via satellite and email but unfortunately we can not touch ground until all forms have been completed and approved by no other then Donald trump himselfbut yes we have been requested

      1. By “deportation”, I assume you mean deployment.

        What do you mean by “dc747”? Are you referring to a 747 passenger airliner?

        Where in the U.S. are the firefighters based?

        1. You may have already seen the regional gacc rotations but four IHCs from R1 and one from R6 got ordered to Alberta. More may have been sent up there but those are the five I’m aware of.

  2. Just a stupid curious question…What kind of wood is it burning? I live in Missoula Mt and we have fires every Summer and they smell all sucky, ashy and gross. We apparently have smoke currently from the Alberta fires. It actually smells like a meat smoker. So I was wondering what kind of timber is involved.

    1. Northern Alberta has a lot of muskeg swamp with deep sphagnum moss. With climate change and a low precipitation winter the moss dries out. Mix that with dry fuels, dead pine from Pune beetle Wind and black spruce- which is really flammable. It’s a catastrophic fire.

    2. Trembling Aspen, Cottonwood and Birch are intermixed with coniferous white and black spruce, Jackpine and Tamarack.

  3. Where can a US citizen make some kind of donation to help fire fighters or citizens?

    1. Hi Lucinda
      Appreciate your generosity. Suggest donating to the Canadian Red Cross as they provide services to evacuees.

  4. Live in Bozeman MT. Hooe the smoke season isn’t going to start this early!!!

  5. I do hope my best thoughts to all up there north of me. A bit off topic but here goes- I live in Ephrata, Wa. The smoke was bad for 2 summers. My home was kept closed tru most of the smoke.– This spring-early- i went spring cleaning. I used a flat floor mop, weak soap mix- white plastic bucket- When i had washed the walls celings-kitchen oak drawers-doors– i dumped the bucket in the white bath tub– it was dark red. Agan lets hope the best for these heros out in the open fighting. —

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