A wildfire that continues to burn out of control in Wood Buffalo National Park has destroyed one cabin and threatens at least 15 others.
The 26,089-hectare fire is about four times the size of Fort McMurray but is so far north that no communities are at risk.
Parks Canada’s fire crews and a helicopter are attacking the fire from the ground and the air, said spokesperson Mike Keizer.
Embers from the fire blew back into an area that had already burned and destroyed a cabin owned by a band member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, Keizer said.
Traditional use cabins are commonly used as homes in the park. They offer band members easy access for fishing, hunting, trapping and Indigenous spiritual and healing practices.
“We got a crew there as quickly as we could but unfortunately the cabin was engaged,” Keizer said.
Keizer said the blaze, located in the Peace Athabasca-Delta between Lake Claire and Mamawi Lake, is predominantly a grassland fire.
The cabin belongs to trapper Alec Martin, a member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation.
Lorraine Albert said her husband lost traps, toboggans, boat engines, chainsaws, axes and his father’s rifle.
He built the cabin with his own hands on land that his family has used for years.
“The financial thing of it is really high but it’s also the cultural value of the area and the significance of where that cabin is,” Albert said.
Others who have traditional use cabins in the area are also worried, Albert said, about what might happen to theirs.
Parks Canada said its working hard to protect other cabins in the area.
Keizer said the fire poses no risk to the communities of Fort Chipewyan or Fort McMurray.
He said residents of those communities should expect to see more smoke from the fire later this week, much as they did on Friday.
“The weather today has been pretty good, so we don’t expect a lot of smoke issues,” Keizer said. “But it’s expected to heat up and dry up as the week goes on, so we may see smoke again later this week.”