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Wildfire near Nordegg results in more closures

A big wildfire continues to burn west of Nordegg and more closures and warnings were issued on Friday, including parts of the forest being closed.

The fire on Thursday night was 13,387 acres (5,600 hectares) in size, but it is still classified as being held by firefighters and is within the containment area.

There are currently 76 firefighters in the area supported by air tankers, helicopters and heavy machinery.

One Red Deer couple is all too familiar with the fire, as they were trapped by closures earlier this week. Stu Weidenhamer and his wife were at their Nordegg house over the weekend, enjoying the warm weather when the fire broke out.

They spent part of Sunday looking at it from the western side of its reach. But the fire intensified and they thought it would be best to head home to Red Deer.

“It was on the fire side of the river and the far side of the highway,” he said. “I wasn’t scared at the time but then I looked back to the east and I could see smoke directly east of where we were and that’s when I thought maybe we better get going. The girl that stopped us must have been fighting it because she had the yellow suit on and her face was just black from soot.”

By that time Hwy 11 was closed and they were trapped. They spent a night at the Saskatchewan River Crossing resort unsure of when they’d be able to get home.

Then on Monday they gave up waiting and drove back to Red Deer the long way, south through Lake Louise, Banff and north back to Red Deer.

“We waited around Monday until about 1 p.m. and they still couldn’t give us any dates when the road would be open so I ended up driving all the way back,” said Weidenhamer from Red Deer on Friday morning.

By Friday afternoon the forest area from the mountains south of Hwy 11 north to Cline River and from Banff National Park border east to Whiterabbit creek has been closed to protect public safety. There is potential for extreme wildfire activity and the wildfire hazard is high.

Hwy 11 from the Banff National Park boundary to 60 kms west of Nordegg is open, but there is an emergency notice that no one is to stop or camp along this stretch because of the fire hazard.

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