Crews hope prescribed burns prevent spread of High Level fire
Published Wednesday, May 22, 2019 5:31AM MDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 22, 2019 11:41AM MDT
Firefighters spent Wednesday morning doing hazard reduction burning around the community of High Level in preparation for a larger operation in the afternoon, causing additional smoke in the area.
Crews are focusing on preventive measures, because of the danger of tackling the fire head-on.
“We will not put any people in front of the head. It's just too dangerous from a safety perspective,” Assistant Deputy Forestry Minister Bruce Mayer said Tuesday.
One of the biggest concerns for crews currently is wood mills on the south side of town. Officials tell CTV that the fire is burning just across the highway from one of those mills.
Limited power has been restored in High Level, Fort Vermillion, La Crete and the Dene Tha’ First Nation after the fires knocked out the electric transmission lines earlier in the week.
A spokesperson for ATCO says due to the unpredictable nature of the fire, power could be intermittent over the next few days, but they are working to secure backup generation to support emergency workers.
Premier Kenney flew into High Level on Tuesday night to see the situation first-hand. He said it’s hard to comprehend the scale of the 80,000 hectre fire unless you see it in person.
The province says the wildfire danger for the region is still extreme, and dry conditions and light winds in the forecast for Wednesday could cause a fire to easily ignite and spread very quickly.
An evacuation order for residents remains in effect, and officials are now urging residents to seek shelter in nearby High Prairie, as there are no more hotel rooms available in Slave Lake.
CTV's Bill Fortier is in High Level: