Energy

Officials Say Massive Canadian Wildfire Was Man-Made

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Craig Boudreau Vice Reporter
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The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) announced Tuesday that lightning wasn’t the source for the Alberta wildfire.

“Wildfire investigators for the province of Alberta have established that the fire was most likely the result of human activity,” the RCMP said in a statement, “having ruled out lightning as a probable cause,”

“It wasn’t natural,” Paul Spring, owner of a helicopter company that has been fighting wildfires in Canada for decades told The Globe And Mail on June 4, “There was no probability of a fire starting naturally that day. There was no lightning in the forecast, nothing that we look for.”

Investigators are now asking to speak with anyone who was in the Horse River trail System between April 29 and May 5 for any possible clues as to the origins of the blaze that displaced some 90,000 Canadians and is also responsible for disrupting the oil from the tar sands by an average of around 1 million barrels a day.

The fire is forecasted to cost insurers nearly $7 billion, according to an analyst for the Bank of Montreal. As a percent of GDP, the Alberta wildfire could cost the Canadian government more than Hurricane Katrina cost the U.S. government based on analysis from Imperial Capital. Katrina cost the U.S. government about .36% of total GDP ($60 billion in damages, $16.7 trillion GDP), where the Canadian wildfire is forecast to cost the Canadian gov’t .5% of GDP ($9 billion in damages, $1.8 trillion GDP).

“There were a very high number of potential causes of fire linked to human activity,” an Alberta Wildlife information officer told the Telegraph “from use of recreational vehicles, to camp fires, industry, power lines, as well as arson.”

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