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Wildfire burning within 1km of Fox Creek, Alta., flames jumped Highway 43: officials

Firefighters are digging in to try to save Fox Creek from a wildfire burning dangerously close to homes in the northwestern Alberta town, officials said Friday.

A pair of out-of-control blazes dubbed the "Eagle Complex" are threatening the town of roughly 2,000, including a fire that is within a kilometer of houses.

"I wouldn't want to predict how much closer it's going to be moving," said Christie Tucker from Alberta Wildfire.

"I know that this is a priority wildfire for our firefighters. This is something that we are putting a lot of resources on. We have firefighters, aircraft and heavy equipment all working to reinforce the containment lines."

About 88,000 hectares of forest has burned in the area.

Residents were told to leave Fox Creek on May 6 and head to an evacuation centre in Whitecourt.

The order remained in place Friday and more rural residents were told to leave the area around 5 p.m.

"Right now the weather is our biggest enemy. The shifts in wind direction continue to present problems that our crews are working diligently to solve," mayor Sheila Gilmour wrote in a statement.

"Stay safe, stay confident and stay strong Fox Creek. We are a strong community that will get through this."

A wildfire burns on the side of Highway 43 near Fox Creek, Alta. on May 18, 2023. (Credit RCMP)Wildfire smoke and damage on Highway 43 near Fox Creek, Alta. on May 19, 2023. (Galen McDougall/CTV News Edmonton)

Gilmour said Friday that no structures have been destroyed in the town but there was damage to a nearby campground and power poles in the area.

She said what Fox Creek really needs is rain and there is some in the forecast.

A portion of Highway 43 near the town, also the main link between Edmonton and Grande Prairie, was closed Thursday because of flames burning near the road.

Officials said the fire burned across the highway overnight. It remained closed between Fox Creek and Little Smoky Friday.

"If you’ve got travel plans, reconsider your routes around the province and always check 511 Alberta before hitting the highways as many major roadways have been impacted by heavy smoke," Cst. Kelsey Davidge wrote in a news release.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jessica Robb Top Stories

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