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North Alberta wildfire extinguished at highest risk level; the conditions expected to worsen



Out-of-control fireworks are burning near a town in north-west Alberta being rated at the highest possible risk level and the dry, windy weather means that the risk is expected to increase the week. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said on Tuesday.

"The fire is jumping from a crown to a crown of trees," says Kenney, explaining why the fire has been graded at level 6, the top end of fire scores.

"The real call was made by. T [High Level] Mayor McAteer to get residents out early based on the unpredictability of winds, "Kenney said.

At present the number of fires burning across the province is slightly higher than the five year average, he said.

There have been 430 wildfires in Alberta since March 1st, six of which are classified as out of control.

Over 4,000 people living in northern Alberta have been ordered to leave their homes because of the fireworks outside control.

As well as High Level, a town some 730 kilometers north of Edmonton, the evacuation order also affects around 750 people living at the nearby First Nation, the Bushe River Reserve.

Over 4,000 people are affected by evacuation orders in north-west Alberta. (Deb Stecyk)

The intensity of the fire outside High Level means that it is fighting from the air as it is not safe to get people on the ground attacking the fire, said Bruce Mayer, assistant deputy t , Alberta Environment, told a news conference on Tuesday.

"I wouldn't give any people in front of the head, it's too dangerous," said Mayer.

He said that 25 helicopters and three air tankers were used on the fire.

The fire has come within five kilometers of the town, but Kenney said that no homes have been damaged and that there are no known injuries due to the fire.

The area also has no power and cellular service. Atco is working to restore power, says Kenney.

The whole town of High Level, Alta., Was successfully moved by 9:30 p.m. MT said on Monday that the High Level, Crystal McAteer, was on Tuesday morning.

Because power feeds are compromised, people could be away from their homes for five days, he said.

Over 650 people have registered at an emergency reception center set up at Llyn Caethweision, which is almost 500 kilometers to the south-east.

People leaving the areas to leave along Highways 58 are encouraged to the east of the communities, as highways to the south and west are already closed due to the fire. .

On Monday night, Kenney sent a video to her Facebook page noting that if the evacuees are displaced from their homes after 72 hours, the province will step in with extra help.

The chief, along with Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen and Minister for Municipal Affairs Kaycee Madu, met with crews who have been working around the clock at the provincial operations center.

"It's quite typical, of course, to have a number of wildfires, after the snow, the winter run-off has gone and before there is a great deal of joy," Kenney said in a video posted night Monday to Facebook.

"There is no forecast of precipitation, so the risk remains quite high."

He thanked the residents for responding "in the right way to the need to leave the town."

Alberta crews fighting the fire will have logistical and personnel support from Ontario, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Those crews are expected to arrive on Wednesday, he said.

Exit details

Chelsea left Kazonay and three young children on a High Level Monday afternoon and stay at the Dene Wellness Center at the First Nation Reserve, outside Hay River, North Wales.

Once the exhaust order was announced, Kazonay said that she had little time to collect her things, seizing some clothes and identifying.

"I left everything," said Kazonay on Tuesday. "I didn't have much time to pack. It was quite busy in High Level."

Chelsea left Kazonay and his three High Level children on Monday afternoon. (Hilary Bird / CBC)

The evacuation center at Slave Lake can receive as many as 1,200 people. The Legacy Center will be open 24 hours. The employees of the town said early on Tuesday that they had enough volunteers to fully staff the facility, and if additional support is needed, a call will be made on social media.

In addition to the reception center at Slave Lake, another was established at High Prairie.

Officers have been arranging transport for residents who cannot go out alone. Alberta Health Services said it had moved 20 patients from the Northwest Health Center in High Level and relocated them to other communities.

The Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several days, but grew substantially on Sunday, when it covered about 25,000 hectares, to about 69,000 hectares on Monday.

For 4 p.m. On Monday when the town was ordered to leave for the first time, the flames were only about three kilometers away.

The order was issued for the Bushe River Reserve, which is located to the south-east of the town, at 8 p.m. Monday.

McAteer said that residents remember wildfires that destroyed Fort McMurray and Llyn Caethweision.

"People are of course afraid because they remember Fort McMurray's wildfires, but we spoke to many of the residents and confirmed that we were proactive," he said.

2016 wildfires destroyed Fort McMurray, Alta, one tenth of the city and around 88,000 people were forced from their homes. Slave Lake was also moved due to fireworks in 2011 which destroyed parts of the community.

The Alberta government announced a ban on fire and restricting the use of vehicles off the highway for several parts of the province late last week due to predictions of low rainfall and strong winds.


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