Winds helping in battle against fire threatening northern Alberta town

Saul Bowman
May 24, 2019

In total, around 4,000 people from High Level and 750 from Bushe River are affected by the evacuation order.

Officials with Alberta Wildfire believe the fire will only get worse because of the extremely dry conditions and strong winds over the coming days.

However, he said based on the average for Alberta in the last five years, the province is at a slightly higher rate for wildfires this month.

There are four other fires classified as out of control in northern Alberta, including two that are burning about 20 kilometres north and 30 kilometres north of Slave Lake. It had consumed about 69,000 hectares as of Monday afternoon.

Fire crews set up sprinklers around homes, hospital and essential service buildings.

Almost 5,000 people cleared out of High Level and nearby First Nations on the long weekend with flames from the out-of-control Chuckegg Creek fire licking at the southern edge of the community, located 750 kilometres northwest of Edmonton. All residents were being asked to sign in at the reception centres.

A 2016 wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alta., destroyed one-tenth of the city and some 88,000 people were forced from their homes.

Gagnon said Albertans should keep an eye out for updates from Alberta Wildfire on fires, highway closures and fire bans.

The Town of High Level told residents on Monday to fill their gas tanks, gather important documents and prepare food and water before ultimately issuing the evacuation order. Some 110 firefighters were working to protect structures in High Level and properties in Mackenzie County.

It notes crews can be deployed out-of-province for up to 19 days but can be recalled at any time.

Meanwhile, a small group of residents living near Edson were able to return to their properties after a wildfire scare Sunday evening.

The province says "considering the current and forecasted fire situation in British Columbia, sufficient personnel and resources remain in the province to respond appropriately to any fire activity here".

"I'm pleased to say it was a safe, orderly evacuation thanks to the co-operation of residents and first responders", Kenney said.

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