Dozens of new wildfires were discovered across Alberta amid high temperatures, dangerously dry conditions and high winds on Thursday.
As of noon on Friday, about 13,000 people across Alberta were being affected in some way or another by mandatory evacuation orders.
There were many Alberta Emergency Alerts issued and updated throughout the day on Thursday as the fires grew and threatened more properties.
On Alberta Wildfire’s live wildfire dashboard, the government agency said there were 84 active wildfires burning in the province as of 12:25 p.m. on Friday. Twenty-two of those fires were considered out of control.
Of the active wildfires burning on Friday, Alberta Wildfire said 26 were suspected to be caused by humans, 12 were believed to have been sparked by lightning and a cause had yet to be determined for the others.
At a news conference to talk about the wildfire situation on Friday, the managing director of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency said this spring has seen “significantly more wildfire activity for this time of year than we’ve certainly seen anytime in the recent past.”
“Id like to share my sympathy with the people who have lost everything in the fire,” Stephen Lacroix added. “This is a stark reminder of just how unpredictable and powerful wildfires can be.”
Christie Tucker, Alberta Wildfire’s information unit manager, reminded Albertans on Friday that there was a fire ban and off-highway vehicle restriction “across the Forest Protection Area.”
“That means people cannot have open wood fires on public or private land or in their backyards,” she said.
Tucker said Alberta’s wildfire-fighting efforts will be assisted by firefighters scheduled to arrive from Ontario and Quebec. She said 79 were arriving Friday alone.
“We will assign all resources where they’re needed most.”
Here are the fires of note, as of noon on Friday:
As of noon on Friday, Alberta wildfire said there were 10 fires of note in the province’s Forest Protection Area.
There are 10 wildfires of note in the Forest Protection Area of Alberta.
1- A wildfire was still burning about two kilometres away from the south edge of the central Alberta town of Drayton Valley. Officials said it was about 1,500 hectares in size and considered to be out of control.
Alberta Wildfire has sent 26 wildfire fighters and three helicopters to the wildfire. Airtankers will also be supporting the firefighting efforts on Friday.
Late Thursday night, the entire town of Drayton Valley and rural properties in Brazeau County were told to evacuate Thursday because of a blaze there.
2- A wildfire burning in the Fox Lake area, a remote community in northern Alberta, was still listed as out of control on Friday and officials said its size was about 4,383 hectares.
There are 55 firefighters, five helicopters, six structure protection crews with vehicle and eight pieces of heavy equipment working on this fire.
Alberta Wildfire said it assisted in the evacuation of Fox Lake, transporting 115 people via helicopter. In all Alberta Wildfire said the entire community has been evacuated to High Level, where about 1,800 of the 3,600 residents of Fox Lake have registered at reception centres.
On Thursday, several thousand people were told to flee Fox Lake and the Little Red River Cree Nation because of a fire that flared out of control overnight.
At 6 p.m., the province said at least 20 homes, the police station and the Northern Store have been lost in Fox Lake.
3- A fire continues to burn near the northwestern Alberta community of Rainbow Lake and as of Friday, the wildfire was believed to be about 500 hectares in size.
Alberta wildfire said there are 24 firefighters, two helicopters and eight pieces of heavy equipment are currently working the wildfire. Heavy bucketing helicopters are operating in the High Level area.
4- An out-of-control wildfire continues to burn about seven kilometres northwest of Evansburg on both sides of Highway 22, about three kilometres north of Highway 16.
Officials said that wildfire was about 2,254 hectares in size on Friday and was 65 pre cent contained.
There are 80 wildland firefighters, four helicopters, and 14 pieces of heavy equipment working to control this wildfire.
Structural protection unit is on scene and integrating operations with Yellowhead County.
Heavy equipment worked through the night to contain the excursion on the north side of fire. The fire also crossed an established guard on the southwest corner, heavy equipment contained that excursion as well.
5- A wildfire burning on the east side of the Pembina River in Parkland County remained out of control at 950 hectares on Friday.
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Drayton Valley residents flee central Alberta town amid wildfire evacuation order
An evacuation order is in place for residents east of the Pembina River.
6- An evacuation alert was issued early Friday for some people living in Big Lakes County in northern Alberta where a wildfire continues to burn out of control about 35 kilometres south of Swan River First Nation.
Officials said that wildfire was five hectares in size. Over a dozen firefighters and two helicopters were battling the fire as of noon on Friday.
7- A wildfire was burning out of control on Friday in the Slave Lake Forest Area that was 950 hectares in size.
8- A 12-hectare out-of-control wildfire continued to burn about 20 kilometres away from the O’Chiese First Nation in central Alberta.
There are 26 firefighters, two intermediate and two medium helicopters and one airtanker working the wildfire.
9- An out-of-control wildfire continues to burn at the Bighorn Reserve west of Rocky Mountain House. Officials said it was 12 hectares in size on Friday. There are 24 firefighters and three helicopters working the wildfire.
10- An out-of-control wildfire continued to burn about 43 kilometres southeast of Edson on Friday. It was listed as being 24,000 hectares in size on Friday.
“Oil and gas facilities and one campground (were) evacuated last night,” Alberta Wildfire said on its website. “There are three dozer groups on standby to action and three helicopters working the wildfire.
“Airtanker support and an ignition specialist has also been requested.”
Other areas where an evacuation order or alert is in place on Friday
-A mandatory evacuation order was issued in the Lessard Lake area of Lac Ste. Anne county just before 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon for people living between Township 553 and Township 555, and Range Roads 51 to 54.
All people in the impacted area were ordered to leave immediately and to head to the Mayerthorpe Diamond Centre at 4918 54 St. in Mayerthorpe.
-Shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Friday, Leduc County issued an emergency alert to remind people living between Range Road 41 east to Range Road 35 and from Township Road 494 north to Township Road 495 that “the evacuation of the area is still in effect.”
“Range Road 40 between Township Road 494 and Township Road 495 is closed,” officials said. “The affected area is approximately four miles north and five miles west of the village of Warburg in Leduc County.”
Evacuees are asked to register with Leduc County by calling 780-955-4546 and to follow the instructions of emergency personnel.
-An evacuation alert was issued shortly before 1 p.m. on Friday for people living in a portion of west-central Alberta west of Beaverdam Provincial Recreation Area and east of the Bighorn Dam, including the hamlet of Nordegg.
Alberta Wildfire said the alert was triggered by a wildfire about 90 hectares in size and burning 18 kilometres southeast of Nordegg and 20 kilometres southeast of the Bighorn First Nation.
More to come…