It seems this burning inferno north of town has grown into quite the monster at over 400 000 hectares. Currently the fire is about 60 km to the north this map here will give you an idea of the extent of the area we're talking about. According to one news report I heard, the blaze is 6 times the size of Edmonton the biggest Alberta fire since back near the end of WWI.
Needless to say we can and do get quite a bit of smoke from the fire drift down the valley and into town here, though some days are better than others. For the most part it hasn't been too bad up here in Thickwood though downtown can be another story entirely. Most days the only hint I get of any problem is a whiff of "eau de BBQ" in the morning along with an orangey-red (and on occasion reddish-pink) sun later on in the day. I tend to notice the smoke a lot more at work although we had a good southerly wind at times this afternoon so things weren't too bad. We haven't had a really bad morning out at site in about a week. I think the worse its been so far was last week when near-by Syncrude was on some sort of evacuation notice from what I was told.
Anyhow, I only mention the fire to reassure anyone who may be wondering. I've noticed the situation getting a lot of media attention the last couple weeks especially. I'm not worried about us here. There's no sense of panic or imminent danger. Unless nearby Fort McKay goes into a full scale evacuation a la Slave Lake I won't get too worried about it. As someone who has never experienced the prospect of forest fires before (trees being in rather short supply in Nunavut) I can only take my cue from those who have experience this sort of thing before and play it by ear.