Mother Nature has engaged our neighbors to the North in a battle, as a massive wildfire has consumed the forests around the oil-sands region of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada since May 1.

The Canadians may finally be making some progress in containing the conflagration after one-week of intense fire-fighting.

Canadian officials showed some optimism on Sunday they were beginning to get on top of the country’s most destructive wildfire in recent memory, as favorable weather helped firefighters and winds took the flames southeast, away from oil sands boomtown Fort McMurray.

There was still no time line, however, for getting Fort McMurray’s 88,000 inhabitants back into what remains of their town, or when energy companies would be able to restart operations at evacuated sites nearby. The wildfires have cut Canada’s vast oil sands output in half.

“It definitely is a positive point for us, for sure,” said Alberta fire official Chad Morrison in a news briefing, when asked if the fight to contain the flames had a reached a turning point.

“We’re obviously very happy that we’ve held the fire better than expected,” said Morrison. “This is great firefighting weather, we can really get in here and get a handle on this fire, and really get a death grip on it.”

This is good news, as some projections had the blaze doubling in size and threatening the adjacent province of Saskatchewan.

The cause of the wildfire is yet unknown, though a compendium of reports from Canadian Channel 4 News indicates that the region experienced a severe drought and no rain had hit the area for over 2 months.

So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the climate change eco-activists are using this disaster as “proof” of their questionable theories.

In January a Canadian study suggested that warming would lead to a “higher frequency of extreme fire weather days” across the country.

The author of that paper, Dr Mike Flannigan from the University of Alberta, seems in little doubt that climate change was at least partly responsible for the outbreak around Fort McMurray.

“This is consistent with what we expect from human-caused climate change affecting our fire regime,” he told reporters.

A number of research papers have highlighted the fact that warming is leading to an increase in wildfire risk. Studies have also shown that northern latitudes are feeling those impacts more strongly.

The failure to properly prepare for wildfires that will naturally occur provides a better explanation. A 2012 analysis of the forestry program for that area suggests understaffed, under-resourced forestry workers had been struggling to contain a growing risk of wildfire. Excessive fire suppression led to a buildup of combustible materials, combining with recent drought conditions, exacerbating the risk of a wildfire.

The wildfire will likely be the costliest in recorded history for Canada. Fort McMurray is the center of Canada’s oil sands region; therefore the impact on the fields has already cut the crude output from the region in half (about one million barrels per day). One analyst estimated insurance losses could exceed C$9 billion ($7 billion).

The wildfire hits Alberta hard, as the province was already reeling from a recession.

It’s the latest blow to Alberta, already grappling with the economic toll of a two-year oil price slump in one of the world’s most expensive places to extract crude. More than 40,000 energy jobs have been lost in Canada since the price crash began in 2014, pushing the provincial economy into recession.

More than 80,000 people have left Fort McMurray, where the fire has torched 1,600 homes and other buildings.

So far there are no reports of damage to production facilities. Most of Alberta’s oil and gas facilities have their own firefighting crews and have physical defenses against wildfires, such as gravel fields and fire breaks, said Chad Morrison, a senior wildfire manager for the Alberta government.

…Key pipelines were closed Thursday, and a major one reopened Friday morning, according to analysts for Genscape, which monitors the pipelines. Much of the oil from the tar sands is refined in the U.S., including at the Suncor plant in Commerce City. The impact on the U.S. oil market will depend on how long the interruption lasts.

Let’s hope that the new projections are on track, and the Canadians contain and control this disaster quickly.