New evacuation order in central Alberta as conditions hamper wildfire efforts
A rapidly growing wildfire has sparked another mandatory evacuation order in Alberta, this time in the province’s central region.
A state of local emergency was issued Sunday evening in the Municipal District of Greenview due to a blaze between Fox Creek and the hamlet of Little Smoky, about 260 km northwest of Edmonton.
The evacuation order applies to both sides of Highway 43 but does not apply to the Town of Fox Creek or the Hamlet of Little Smoky. Between 100 and 200 people are affected.
The wildfire was estimated at about 800 hectares Sunday, wildlife information officer Barry Shellian of Alberta's Agriculture and Forestry department said on Monday morning.
Wildfire Manager Chad Morrison told reporters Monday evening that the fire had grown only marginally throughout the day, “maybe 10 per cent.”
It’s one of four new wildfires started in the last 24 hours, Premier Rachel Notley said Monday morning.
There are now 15 wildfires burning, including three that are out of control. More than 1,900 firefighters are working across the province, along with 161 helicopters, 29 air tankers and 377 pieces of heavy equipment.
The blaze grew rapidly due to the extremely dry conditions present on the ground, high temperatures with low humidity, and steady and gusting winds.
“We expect today over the next couple of days to continue to have new starts that are going to challenge us in the hot and dry conditions,” said Morrison.
“We expect potential of lightning fires over the coming days as well.”
The fire in the Whitecourt region of Alberta is being fought by about 40 firefighters, with eight helicopters and 15 air tankers dropping water.
The conditions are "extraordinary" and wildfire indices are record-setting, Shellian said.
"We expect potential rapid growth of that fire," he said.
Evacuees have been asked to report to a reception centre at the Paradise Inn in Valleyview, east of Grande Prairie. Residents are asked to check in even if they don't want to stay at the hotel.
Small pets are welcome at the hotel. Large animals and outside pets will be sheltered at the Valleyview Agricultural Grounds.
The temperature is expected to rise through the week, with rain not expected until Wednesday.
The emergency comes about two weeks after a wildfire ripped into Fort McMurray, destroying about 2,400 structures and forcing more than 80,000 people from the city.