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high alert

Flames rise off Highway 63 on May 7, 2016 outside Fort McMurray, where raging forest fires have forced more than 88,000 from their homes.COLE BURSTON/AFP / Getty Images

Saskatchewan officials are on high alert as the wildfire raging around neighbouring Fort McMurray moves east toward the province's border – but authorities caution that there is "no imminent threat" to residents.

The province has been experiencing the same dry weather conditions as in Alberta and government officials say they are concerned about the northwest area of Saskatchewan and when the fire will cross over the border.

Duane McKay, the province's commissioner of emergency management, said the fire was 20 kilometres from the Saskatchewan border, and about 80 kilometres away from any communities.

"There is no imminent threat to any communities within the province of Saskatchewan," Mr. McKay told reporters via a conference call on Sunday.

He described the situation as "very dynamic," adding "we think that we have a pretty good plan in place. We're preparing, making sure that all the resources we require will be readily available."

Although the fire hasn't jumped the border, Mr. McKay said officials are focusing on the heavy smoke drifting in and affecting air quality in the northwest corner of the province. If the smoke continues and gets heavier, people could be evacuated from certain areas.

Saskatchewan has sent staff to help Alberta fire services in Edmonton and to also to keep them informed about how quickly the fire is spreading.

In the meantime, Steve Roberts, executive director of Saskatchewan's wildfire management, said fire crews have latitude to fight the fire on the Alberta side as it gets closer, instead of waiting for it to cross the border.

The province had large fires along its western borders last year, which means many of those areas are devoid of fuel for burning and could make the fire coming from Alberta more difficult to spread, Mr. Roberts said.

Officials have also moved some equipment, like sprinkler units, to the west of the province so resources are available on short-notice.

Mr. Roberts said the weather is concerning because not only will temperatures be above 20 degrees Celsius, there are moderate winds, very little rain and a chance of lightning.

"Our resources are all on high alert," Mr. Roberts said, referring to the Fort McMurray fire and another significant wildfire in Northern Alberta.

"We would expect these fires to continue to grow. It will be the rate that they grow and the ability to control their advance over the next couple of days that will determine if or when they would come into Saskatchewan," he added.

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