Wildfires, fueled by dry conditions and strong winds, continue to threaten communities west of Edmonton, forcing hundreds of people from their homes.
Mandatory evacuation orders remain in place for parts of Parkland County and Yellowhead County as wildfires threaten rural homes, farms and businesses.
Around 1 p.m. Monday, Yellowhead County announced on Facebook that residents of Wildwood, 115 kilometers west of Edmonton, were to evacuate immediately.
A welcome center is set up for evacuees at the Edson and District Recreation Center.
As of Monday morning, the hamlets of Entwistle and Evansburg – neighboring communities about 100 kilometers west of Edmonton – remain under evacuation as separate fires are fueled by high winds, heat and low humidity .
“The conditions we’re looking at today, for example, we’re somewhere between 10 and 15 degrees above the seasonal norm in Edmonton,” Derrick Forsythe, an information officer with Alberta Wildfire, said in a statement. interview Monday.
“When you have these warmer temperatures and the winds that we see, it’s a really good environment for fires to get up and ignite and roll.”
Forsythe said there isn’t much rain forecast for the next few days, so if conditions don’t change, it will remain difficult to get the fires under control.
Evacuation orders began on Saturday as a pair of wildfires grew rapidly amid unseasonably warm temperatures. RCMP officers spent the weekend knocking on doors and telling residents to leave as tanker planes began to move through smoky skies.
Both wildfires continue to burn out of control.
One covers approximately 2,200 hectares, seven kilometers northwest of Evansburg. The second, seven kilometers southeast of Entwistle, burned 330 hectares.
Parkland County and neighboring Yellowhead County have declared local states of emergency.
In Parkland County, people living west of Range Road 65 to the Pembina River, north of Township Road 530 to Highway 16, including all Entwistle residents, should leave as soon as as possible. The hamlet is home to around 800 people.
There are two reception centers for evacuees, who must register either in person at the Wildwood Community Hall or Wabamun Jubilee Hall, or by calling 780-203-3258.
In Yellowhead County, a mandatory evacuation order remains in effect in the hamlet of Evansburg and the area directly south of the hamlet north of Highway 16.
Highway 16 remains closed in the area near the traffic lights. Highway 22 south of 16 to Township Road 530 also remains closed.
Evansburg evacuees should register at Wildwood Hall or by calling the Yellowhead County Emergency Information Line at 1-833-334-4630.
Around 3 a.m. Sunday, Yellowhead County expanded its evacuation alert.
All residents of the Lobstick Resort community and areas north of Wildwood have been issued mandatory evacuation orders. The expanded evacuation area includes properties located at the east end of Chip Lake.
The county said Monday it expects about 800 people to have been evacuated from their homes.
Critical alerts advise people to collect important documents, medicine and enough food and water to be away for at least three days.
The larger of the two fires, northwest of Evansburg on both sides of Highway 22, was detected Friday evening.
It was originally two separate incidents, one on the east side of Highway 22 and the other on the west side of the highway. But as the flames moved towards the highway, the fire coalesced into one.
By Monday, two properties and some outbuildings had been destroyed.
Yellowhead County is working with Alberta Wildfire to contain the spread of fires. As of Monday, 75 firefighters were working on the blaze, along with 13 pieces of heavy equipment and six helicopters.
Other helicopters, with bucket capacity, will be available on request, as will air tankers, Alberta Wildfire said.
The burned area includes a mixture of grasses, shrubs, trees and marshes. Strong winds, warm temperatures and very dry fuel contribute to its rapid spread.
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