The out-of-control Chuckegg Creek wildfire now covers 920 square kilometres and remains about three kilometres southwest of High Level. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Crews fight fire with fire to keep blaze from northern Alberta town

HIGH LEVEL, Alta. — A fire-threatened town in northern Alberta says a successful controlled burn has been carried out to help keep a raging nearby wildfire at bay.

A statement on High Level’s website says the burn — to eliminate fuel the blaze could feed on — was done Wednesday afternoon south and west of the community as part of efforts to contain the out-of-control Chuckegg Creek fire.

It says more of these operations will be done when conditions allow.

The wildfire now covers some 920 square kilometres and remains about three kilometres southwest of the town.

It continues to keep approximately 5,000 residents of High Level and region out of their homes following an evacuation order issued over the long weekend.

Provincial fire authorities say rising temperatures, a gusting wind and no significant rain have pushed the wildfire danger around High Level into the extreme range.

High Level Mayor Crystal McAteer told a news conference Wednesday that firefighting is going well, but everyone is at the mercy of the weather.

“I want to stress the importance to everyone, especially evacuees, that the danger has not passed nor has it diminished,” McAteer said. “We know based on recent experiences of Slave Lake and of Fort McMurray that wildfires are highly unpredictable and can change at any moment.

“I am pleading with everyone to be patient and that the evacuation of High Level will continue into the foreseeable future.”

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