Flames seen from burning wildfire in High Level, Alta. on Saturday, May 18, 2019. (Chris Dechant/Facebook)

High Level and central Alberta fire serve as reminder to Red Deerians to be prepared

Central Alberta hamlet of Marlboro was on evacuation alert over the weekend

A northern Alberta town and a nearby First Nation have been evacuated due to the threat of an encroaching wildfire.

So far, the City of Red Deer has not been asked to provide assistance with the wildfire near High Level.

The fire serves as a reminder to Red Deerians to ensure they’re ready for an emergency, says City of Red Deer emergency management co-ordinator Karen Mann.

“The fires occurring are relatively far away, but it’s a great opportunity for people in Red Deer to look at their own emergency preparedness, and we always remind our residents of the three steps for emergency preparedness,” she said.

The three steps are knowing the risks in the area, making an emergency plan with family and having a 72-hour emergency kit ready. More information is available at reddeer.ca/getprepared.

There was another wildfire burning in central Alberta – about 275 kilometres northwest of Rocky Mountain House – over the long weekend. Residents in the hamlet of Marlboro were allowed back into their homes Monday morning, when an evacuation order was lifted.

“A wildfire that started south of Highway 16 west of Edson, near Marlboro, has spread to Highway 16,” Yellowhead county shared in a Facebook post Sunday.

“Several homes have been evacuated and Yellowhead County Protective Services are working with other agencies for firefighting and evacuation.”

A reception centre was set up for evacuees in Edson, about 26 kilometres west of the hamlet.

In the north, the Chuckegg Creek fire near High Level has been burning for several days, but grew substantially from Sunday, when it covered about 25,000 hectares, to an estimated 69,000 hectares on Tuesday.

Reception centres for evacuees were set up in High Prairie and Slave Lake, and officials were arranging transportation for residents who couldn’t get out on their own.

By Tuesday, nearly 5,000 people were cleared out of High Level and nearby First Nations communities, with flames licking at the southern edge of the settlement, which is about 750 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

“The fire is actually burning on the southwest side of High Level headed northwest,” said Bruce Mayer, the assistant deputy minister of Alberta’s Agriculture and Forestry Department.

“The forecast for the next few days is the strong gusty winds will be from the southeast to east and northeast, which are all favourable from a High Level perspective.”

In Red Deer, Mann said the province will contact the city if help is needed. She said usually, the communities closest to the wildfire will be the first ones to provide support.

“We’re not geographically close to High Level. Central Alberta is quite far away, so generally, we’d get asked to provide support after the communities north of us,” she said.

The City of Red Deer assisted with the wildfires in Slave Lake and Fort McMurray in 2011 and 2016, and the southern Alberta floods in 2013.

With files from The Canadian Press

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