Conditions ripe for wildfires: Fire bans and restrictions across province, more evacuations
Over 13,000 Albertans have been evacuated from their homes due to wildfire, said authorities on Friday.
On May 5, Alberta Wildfire and the Alberta Emergency Management Agency gave an update on the serious wildfire situation in Alberta.
“It's early in the day it's going to get hotter. It's going to get windy here and we're expecting some extreme wildfire behaviour,” Christie Tucker, information unit manager, Alberta Wildfire in a press conference.
At the time of the press conference, Tucker said there were 78 wildfires burning in the province, and 19 of those fires have recently been listed as out of control.
Tucker gave an update on priority wildfires that they will focus on.
The Drayton Valley wildfire is currently out of control and is 1,500 hectares in size.
Officials announced evacuations last night after wildfire activity was seen across the river.
“It's currently burning inside the river valley between the river and HWY 22, seven km from the south edge of Drayton Valley. It is grown 20 hectares on that side of the river today,” she said.
Currently, there are 26 firefighters, three helicopters, and air tankers working on the fire.
The Fox Lake fire is also out of control at 4,400 hectares.
“There's a type one incident management team on that fire,” she said.
There were 115 people were evacuated using two helicopters on Thursday.
There are 36 firefighter, three helicopters, air tankers, and heavy equipment “working to control the fire.”
Tucker said they were able to use night vision technology to fight the wildfire around the clock.
Rainbow Lake is also a priority fire; however, Tucker said it is moving away from the community, “but it's still significant priority for firefighters.”
“We have a few new starts that we are watching, and we are going to make sure that we have enough resources today to share them where the priorities are as they develop,” she said.
There are 79 firefighters coming into the province from Ontario and Quebec and through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center.
“We have requests for more assistance as well,” she said.
Tucker said today’s weather conditions are expected to be very warm with extremely strong winds, particularly in the northern half of the province.
"There is a fire ban and an off-highway vehicle restriction across the Forest Protection Area now in place," she said.
Restrictions announced today mean people cannot have open wood fires on public or private land, or in their backyard.
Tucker said if Albertans want to find out exactly what bans and restrictions are in place, visit Albertafirebans.ca.
“That will have the most up to date information about any bands in place, and what you can and cannot do in the forest protection area or outside in Alberta,” she said.
Since Jan. 1, 2023 there has been a total of 348 wildfires in the province.
“It's burned more than 2,500 hectares of land. That significantly more wildfire activity for this time of year than we've certainly seen any time in the recent past,” she said.
“The conditions are ripe for a wildfire to start and spread very quickly,” she said.
Stephen Lacroix, managing director, Alberta Emergency Management Agency issued a warning to Albertans who have active fires in their areas.
“Please listen to all officials or local officials and obey any evacuation orders you may receive. Follow the Alberta emergency alert application and website and your local municipality for recreation information and available services,” he said.
Lacroix said Alberta 511 provides up to date highway closures and conditions.
“We're working with federal, provincial and municipal partners to deliver emergency support throughout this evolving and extremely fluid situation," he said.
Jessica Nelson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette