EDMONTON -- A wildfire is burning out of control nine kilometres northwest of Evansburg, prompting an evacuation alert for residents living along Highway 16.

The fire was detected on Tuesday around 4 p.m. as a two-hectare fire and was estimated to be around 125 hectares in size as of 8:50 p.m., according to Alberta Wildfire. They added the fire had crossed Lobstick Creek and was heading south as of 7:15 p.m.

“People are tense, with the dry weather we’re having right now, people are nervous,” said Jim Eglinski, the mayor of Yellowhead County.

There are six air tankers, four helicopters and 30 firefighters working to contain the fire burning between Evansburg and Wildwood.

Eglinski said that Wildwood hadn’t been affected by the fire yet and that crews were “hitting the fire quite rapidly.”

The air tankers and trucks are able to use water from nearby Chip Lake to battle the fire.

Evansburg wildfire

“It’s classified as out of control, but we’re hoping with cooler temperatures overnight, that will help to slow down fire activity and bring it under control,” said Josee St-Onge, with Alberta Wildfire.

An evacuation alert is in place for resident living along Highway 16 west of Highway 22 to Highway 16A.

An evacuation centre is being set up at the Evansburg Arena, resident in the area can call 1-833-334-4630 for emergency information.

“We’ve been getting calls from all over the region, restaurants offering food, stuff like that… the community’s come together,” said Eglinski.

So far, only individual properties have been evacuated, not entire communities, according to St-Onge.

No structures have been destroyed by the fire. Eglinski said several are threatened but sprinklers have been put in place and crews are on standby to protect the homes.

No injuries have been reported from the fire.

St-Onge said the cause of the wildfire is “likely human caused,” but Alberta Wildfire did not yet have an investigation into the cause open yet.

Two area residents who had been evacuated from their home heard the fire started at a nearby peat moss plant.

“We’re hoping and praying it’s going to miss us but… we don’t know,” said George Hyshka.

Highway 16A is closed from 47 Avenue in Evansburg to Range Road 82 because of the fire. Drivers in the area are advised to be careful as smoke may impact visibility.

Wildfire smoke

Hyshka said when he and his wife were leaving their property they thought they going the wrong way because of all the smoke.

A fire advisory is in place for the Edson Forest area, all existing burn permits, other than burn barrels, have been cancelled.

“The fire danger is currently very high… so this is something that we were prepared for and we feel that we have the resources in place to properly action the fire,” said St-Onge.

Alberta Wildfire reminds people if they see smoke or flames and think it could be a wildfire to call 310-3473. They said there have been 74 wildfires in the Edson Forest area since March 1, 2021.

There are currently 12 wildfires burning in the forest protection area of Alberta. Two other small fires are currently classified as out of control, but St-Onge said they are less than 1 hectare in size as of 9 p.m.

“These ones are not wildfires that we are concerned about right now because they are still very small,” said St-Onge.

Evansburg is around 100 km west of Edmonton.