The fire in northern Alberta. (The Canadian Press)

Wildfire surges in size, forces more people out of their homes in northern Alberta

There have been no homes or business damaged to date around High Level

A wildfire has prompted an eight-hour evacuation alert for a northern Alberta town that saw parts of it destroyed in a 2011 fire.

The alert says Slave Lake is not in imminent danger, but residents should be prepared to evacuate on short notice.

The town is the latest community to be put on evacuation alert, as several fires rage out-of-control in northern Alberta and blanket areas to the south in an acrid haze.

Slave Lake is currently housing many people who were evacuated from High Level more than a week ago.

The Alberta government has also issued an emergency alert for Chipewyan Lake Village, about 450 kilometres north of Edmonton.

People were being asked to leave immediately because of a rapidly moving wildfire that threatens to cut off access to the area.

Different fires have also forced evacuations from the hamlet of Wabasca, the Bigstone Cree Nation and Northern Lights County.

In the High Level area, about 5,000 people have been out of their homes because of a raging fire that won’t stop growing.

It has spread to cover 2,300 square kilometres — up from 1,500 square kilometres on Wednesday — but crews are still managing to keep the flames out of the town.

“The Chuckegg Creek fire experienced extreme fire behaviour yesterday,” said a Thursday morning update. “Continued hot and dry conditions along with variable, gusty winds have proved a challenge to firefighting efforts and safety.”

The update said the fire grew to the south, west and north.

“There have been no homes or business damaged to date around High Level, but the threat remains,” it said.

High Level Mayor Crystal McAteer, Reeve Josh Knelsen of Mackenzie County and Dene Tha’ First Nation Chief James Ahnassay issued a joint statement late Wednesday on Facebook.

“We know that many of you are very anxious to hear about what is happening with the wildfire and the situation in our communities. Many of you have been out of your homes and away from your work for a long time.” they wrote.

The leaders urged patience.

“On Wednesday, the wildfire threatening our communities grew significantly and exhibited extreme and volatile fire behaviour. We simply don’t know for sure what this fire will do next.

“The danger to High Level remains, and the danger to communities in Mackenzie County and the Dene Tha’ First Nation has increased. Four more areas were evacuated … More than 600 of our neighbours had to leave their homes.”

The goal is to get residents of High Level home by the weekend, the post said.

“But with this wildfire we can’t promise anything. For other communities, we know it will be later. Please be patient with us. The situation is constantly changing and there are no firm timelines.”

People in Edmonton awoke Thursday to a thick, smoky haze that turned otherwise blue skies an eerie grey-orange.

Environment Canada issued a special air-quality statement for the Alberta capital, warning that people might experience coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors, and those with heart and lung disease were said to be at special risk.

READ MORE: Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

READ MORE: Wildfire smoke and drought conditions in May? Welcome to 2019

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Burns Lake breaks temperature records amid cold snap

It’s no surprise that the ongoing blast of winter broke a handful… Continue reading

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

BC Green Party leader visits Wet’suwet’en camps at heart of pipeline conflict

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada and First Nations

Coastal GasLink repeats desire for meeting with hereditary chiefs

Coastal GasLink says they’re ready to meet with the hereditary chiefs at their convenience

Ranning Charlie acquitted of all charges

The charges included sexual assault

Meng extradition case back in court for second day on double criminality test

Meng is accused of lying to HSBC about Huawei’s relationship with an Iran-based subsidiary

Canada to ratify new NAFTA next week following U.S. Senate approval: Trudeau

Trudeau says millions of Canadians depend on stable, reliable trade

Skier dies at Fernie Alpine Resort

It’s the second person to die in a tree well at a ski resort in B.C. in the past week.

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mom shares ‘insane’ experience of viral dinosaur video

Tabitha Cooper filmed her costumed sons meeting their grandma at the Victoria International Airport

Vancouver Island home to one of Canada’s largest private skateboard collections

Eric Pinto owns hundreds of boards, spanning multiple decades

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

Most Read