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Alberta wildfire near Enbridge crude oil tank farm: officials

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A massive wildfire burning around the oil sands hub of Fort McMurray, Alberta is about 1 km (1,094 yards) away from Enbridge Inc's Cheecham crude oil tank farm, but is under control for now, emergency officials said on Monday.

[CALGARY] A massive wildfire burning around the oil sands hub of Fort McMurray, Alberta is about 1 km (1,094 yards) away from Enbridge Inc's Cheecham crude oil tank farm, but is under control for now, emergency officials said on Monday.

The blaze near the tank farm was stable because the wind was cooperating as Enbridge's industrial firefighters tackled the blaze, the officials said at a news conference.

The entire population of Fort McMurray, about 90,000 people, were forced to flee the Canadian city nearly two weeks ago as the uncontrolled wildfire raged through some neighborhoods and destroyed about 15 per cent of structures.

On Monday, the blaze continued to burn uncontrolled, covering 285,000 hectares (704,000 acres), officials said. They noted firefighting efforts will be challenging over the next couple of days with hot, dry conditions and lightning fires expected.

Firefighters have managed to protect the rest of Fort McMurray but evacuated residents are still not allowed to return to their homes, partly because of "thousands" of hotspots around the community, wildfire manager Chad Morrison said.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said there was still no timeline on when residents could return but she hoped to have more information by the end of the week.

Officials said the air quality in the city had deteriorated, with the air quality health index, usually measured on a scale of 1-10, at 38 on Monday.

"This has delayed the re-entry of additional response personnel as well as vehicle retrieval efforts," Ms Notley said.

"It is clear that this is something that could potentially delay recovery work and the return to the community."

Roughly a million barrels per day of oil sands crude production was shut in as a precaution and because of disruptions to regional pipelines, and much of that production remains offline.

Scott Long, executive director of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency, said he had no information about how much crude oil Cheecham tank farm held, but noted that it was critical infrastructure.

Pipeline company Enbridge had evacuated the Cheecham terminal on May 4 but on Friday said it was staffed again. A company spokesman said on Monday he had no further updates.

REUTERS