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'Ready to go': Fort McMurray residents prepared for evacuation as crews battle nearby wildfire

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An evacuation alert remains in place in the Fort McMurray area on Monday afternoon.

Residents of Saprae Creek Estates, Gregoire Lake Estates, Fort McMurray First Nation #468, Anzac and Rickards Landing Industrial Park were told to be prepared to leave because of a wildfire burning out of control nearby.

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo says the fire, dubbed MWF-017, remains about 16 kilometres southwest of Fort McMurray, and was 6,575 hectares in size as of Sunday.

Officials say light showers and winds in the area on Monday morning were favourable for firefighters to continue making progress on the fire.

Crews are using heavy equipment to establish a fire guard on the northeast side of the fire, and six crews of firefighters are working on a containment line.

One woman who lost her home in the 2016 wildfire in Fort McMurray says she's ready to leave if an evacuation order is issued.

"Last time we weren't [prepared]. My husband didn't even believe me," Courtney Sweeney told CTV News Edmonton on Monday.

"Then he turned on the radio and it said, 'You have 30 minutes to evacuate.' And we were like, 'What do we do?'"

This time her family is already prepared after a fire earlier this year.

"The main thing was my kids' coin collection from their dad. Our passports, even though they're expired, just extra information. Birth certificates and our pets' ashes were the main things that I was mostly worried about," she said.

"All of my kids' favourite stuffed animals and blankets, things that you can't replace, are ready to go."

Sweeney says despite being prepared, she's not panicking.

"This time around, people just want to be really, really cautious. But at the same time, make sure you follow the actual news updates. And don't try and follow too much on social media. Because sometimes things get blown out of proportion."

"So far no one that I know of has gone out of town that wasn't already out of town for some other reason. But pretty much everybody has got something set up so that they can on a moment's notice." 

Alberta Wildfire update

In a wildfire update on Monday afternoon, Alberta Wildfire said 18 new wildfires had started between Friday morning and Saturday evening.

The province is also assisting with an out-of-control wildfire in the County of Grande Prairie near the town of Teepee Creek.

"We're still seeing very high or high wildfire danger in the northern part of the province, and extreme wildfire danger continues in the Grande Prairie area today," Christie Tucker of Alberta Wildfire told reporters. "Firefighters and support resources are positioned around the province, particularly in those areas where we're seeing higher wildfire danger."

Tucker reminded Albertans to keep drones grounded in wildfire areas.

"If you fly a drone over or near a wildfire you could be endangering firefighters and you could cause firefighting operations to stop. Let us do our job and fight Alberta's wildfires safely."

While many parts of Alberta saw smoke over the weekend, Tucker says it wasn't actually from fires in the province.

"A lot of the smoke that we saw here in the province across the weekend was not even caused by wildfires here in Alberta, they would have been coming from B.C. and as we were seeing wildfire activity," she commented.

"You can use a website like firesmoke.ca to see how smoke is travelling across the country and what we can expect in the sort of hours as as smoke moves."

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Miriam Valdes-Carletti 

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