The Sturgeon Lake Complex comprises two fires. GWF017 is estimated to be 4218 hectares in size and is out of control, while GWF023 is estimated to be 3692 hectares in size and is out of control. These updated sizes reflect recent mapping as well as the limited expansion observed along the perimeter, particularly on the northwest flank of GWF023 and on the northeast flank of GWF017. Today there are 146 firefighting personnel and 103 management and support staff on site. Twelve helicopters and 25 pieces of heavy machinery are allotted to the two fires. Among the 12 helicopters are two Chinook helicopters.

To take advantage of yesterday’s east-southeast winds before today’s predicted wind shift, hand ignition operations continued until late last night. The purpose of this was to eliminate unburned vegetation between the guard and the fire line. This allows crews to better control the fire’s direction and behaviour, particularly in the face of ever-changing wind directions. Crews also conducted hand ignitions around Sandy Bay to remove fuels that were threatening structures. These tactics are used in conjunction with Structure Protection Teams who work to keep values wet with a variety of tools including sprinklers and portable pools.

Smoky conditions today will once again determine if aircraft can be safely used on the fires. Regardless, crews will continue building dozer guard, watering containment lines, and conducting hand ignitions. When aircraft can be safely deployed, they will be used for bucketing operations as well as reconnaissance flights to assess any new fire growth, particularly on the west/northwest flank of GFW023.


Sturgeon Lake Complex GCX001, May 18, 2023 Photo: Sturgeon Lake Complex, May 18, 2023 /Alberta Wildfire

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