Albertans told to evacuate as fires threaten hamlets and rural residents
ENTWISTLE, Alta. — As some Albertans were being told to evacuate, or to be ready to flee to safety at a moment's notice due to multiple grass and brush fires in areas west and northwest of Edmonton, others were being allowed to return home.
RCMP on Sunday afternoon had asked people living in a rural area southeast of Barrhead, Alta., to evacuate immediately as police assisted local fire departments with an out-of-control fire. Others residing within about three kilometres north of the area needed to be on a 15-minute “ready to leave” warning, police said.
Hours later, police said those people could return to their homes, but several mandatory evacuation orders remained in effect about 90 kilometres to the southwest due to fires that began Saturday and continued to spread on Sunday.
The hamlets of Entwistle and Evansburg as well as the Lobstick Resort remained evacuated as separate fires in the vicinity of the communities continue to burn out of control.
“Our fire crews are working hard to get this wildfire under control. Our top priority is the safety of our residents and first responders," Parkland Fire Chief Brian Cornforth said in a statement about a 330-hectare blaze burning about nine kilometres southeast of Evansburg.
"Thank you to all those who have followed the mandatory evacuation order, we appreciate your patience and assistance so we can get everyone back home safe as soon as possible."
Parkland County Mayor Allan Gamble, meanwhile, thanked people for offering supports.
"Parkland County is a connected community and it’s wonderful to see neighbours helping each other in this time of need," Gamble said in a statement.
Parkland County says RCMP and Peace Officers are patrolling the evacuation area and maintaining site security.
The province said in a wildfire information update that additional firefighters and air tankers had been requested for the fire that's south of the hamlets.
Another two fires west of the communities that began Saturday north of Highway 16 on both sides of Highway 22 had combined and were about 3,000 hectares total.
The update said that fire is burning in a mixture of grass, shrub, trees and marsh.
"Last night, dozers were on the fire line building containment lines. Early this morning, firefighters used hand ignition techniques to burn off and remove some of the available fuel to re-enforce existing containment lines," the update said about the fire burning north of Highway 16.
"Today, we will have additional heavy equipment and three helicopters assisting firefighters on the line. Both Yellowhead County and AB Wildfire will work together to contain the spread."
The update noted strong winds and very dry fuel were the main reasons this wildfire spread so quickly.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 30, 2023.
The Canadian Press