Fire near Edson prompts evacuation order in neighbouring community
Published Sunday, May 19, 2019 12:50PM MDT
Last Updated Monday, May 20, 2019 9:09AM MDT
A wildfire burning out of control west of Edson, Alta., has forced several residents of a nearby community to evacuate.
Edson RCMP are evacuating Marlboro residents along the north and south side of Highway 16.
Mounties say several homes are at risk from the blaze due to the fire jumping the highway and burning on both sides of the road.
Traffic is being stopped on Highway 16 and is impassible due to smoke and zero visibility.
In a post to social media, Edson Mayor Kevin Zahara said the town is on standby and will provide assistance requested by Yellowhead County.
Officials watching 'out of control fires' across northern Alberta
Although crews have gained control of several other fires burning in northern Alberta, much of the region remains under an extreme wildfire danger advisory Sunday.
Officials classified a number of fires on Sunday as out of control, including a 25,000-hectare blaze south of High Level, a 6,000-hectare wildfire northwest of Peace River, and two fires totalling about 5,000 hectares in the area of Slave Lake.
However, Slave Lake town officials said they were monitoring two fires roughly 30 kilometres north of the community, which burned close enough to Highway 754 on Saturday for it to be closed.
“(The fires are) definitely not close to town, but enough that we’re—it keeps us wondering,” said Mayor Tyler Warman.
“The big factors for us is the fact that it is extremely dry up here right now, and very windy the last two days—and windy again today,” Warman explained. “Fortunately, that wind is going in the opposite direction and taking those fires away. But all this wind and dry conditions doesn’t help.”
The conditions are typical for May. Alberta Wildfire Provincial Information Officer Derek Gagnon said there were 119 new starts over three days in 2018.
"We have seen some of the biggest wildfires in Alberta occur on this day or prior to, during the month of May," Gagnon said.
The situation is a reminder of the 2011 Slave Lake wildfire that forced the town to evacuate in what was, at the time, Alberta’s largest wildfire displacement. The eighth anniversary of the fire was on May 14.
“We’ve learned from experiences that Mother Nature does what she wants,” Warman said.
“Obviously we don’t want to go through that… but you know, we’ve put a lot into protecting ourselves and being prepared and planning ahead.”
Both local and provincial resources have been dedicated to the fire control efforts, including 60 firefighters, five helicopters, four airtankers, a birddog plane and various pieces of heavy equipment.
Warman said he was optimistic about their abilities to control the Slave Lake fires so long as others didn’t pop up and force the community to split its resources.
Fire near High Level grows to 25,000 hectares
The 25,000-hectare fire near High Level is one of four near the northern community, but the only one considered out of control by officials.
Alberta Transportation closed Highway 35 south of High Level as a result of the blaze.
A fire ban remains in place from Lac La Biche to the northwest corner of Alberta. An off-highway vehicle restriction has also been issued for the majority of the Forest Protection Area of Alberta.
Wildfires can be reported to 310-FIRE or #FIRE on mobile phones.