PHOTOS — Nordegg residents waiting to go home

The Nordegg-area wildfire was still out-of-control, but 90 per cent contained on Wednesday.

The Nordegg-area wildfire was still out-of-control, but 90 per cent contained on Wednesday.

That meant Clearwater County’s mandatory evacuation order for Nordegg residents was still in place. Residents were evacuated on Sunday night.

“We do understand people are starting to want to get back into their homes and check on things. We keep telling them that we’ll get them back in there as soon as we possibly can but it’s going to be once we are certain that their safety is no longer at risk,” said Christine Heggart, Clearwater County communications co-ordinator, on Wednesday.

“The evacuation is still in effect. We don’t have a time frame of when it will be lifted.”

A reception centre for evacuees was set up at Rocky Curling Club but none of the 80 people who registered have slept at the centre.

“Essentially, people either have holiday trailers or they’re camping or they have friends in the area,” Heggart said.

The wildfire is still about 1.5 km from Nordegg and over 741 acres in size.

On Wednesday, Lodgepole residents, who were also evacuated on Sunday, were allowed to return home as wildfire 1.5 km from their hamlet was no longer considered out of control.

The 3,112-acre wildfire was reclassified as being held or contained.

Whitney Exton, fire information officer with Rocky Mountain House Wildfire Management Area, said containment of the Nordegg fire was improving.

“So as soon as (firefighters) can fully contain the fire and they’re confident that the entire fire guard is secure, they will classify the fire as being held, which means that given the current firefighters and weather, the fire isn’t expected to go past the containment boundaries,” Exton said.

She said firefighters are patrolling the entire perimeter of the fire, clearing away downed debris and looking for hot spots, which is fire that burns in the ground and needs to be dug up and extinguished.

Firefighters with Alberta Sustainable Resource Development are fighting flames in the forest while Clearwater County firefighters, mostly volunteers, are on guard against fire in the hamlet of Nordegg.

“At this point there has been no fire at the mine site or in the town site. They have put out any of the spot fires that have happened,” Heggart said.

A few spot fires flared but were extinguished near a couple of railway coal cars at the Nordegg mine site caused by flying embers when the winds were strong, she said.

Exton said on earlier that motorists were stopping in the Nordegg area to take photos of the wildfire and they shouldn’t do that.

“It creates unsafe conditions for not only drivers and passengers in vehicles but for wildfire crews working in the area.”