Wildfires rage near Nordegg

Monday morning, Travis Alvard couldn’t see across the road from the Nordegg General Store.

But it was because of a thick fog and not the wildfires burning within 30 kms of the western Alberta village.

Nearly 1,910 hectares of wildfires are burning west of Nordegg. Nearby Alan Ernst, owner of Aurum Lodge near Cline River said they hadn’t thought much of the smoke and feel safe.

“We probably found out about later than many others did, when people came in and said trails were closed,” said Ernst. “We saw helicopters in the air. The closest one is up Coral Creek, that seems to be held.

“You can see and feel the smoke, but quite frankly we didn’t know something was close by because we’ve had smoke all summer long from B.C.”

The fires have forced the closures of trails in the Coral Creek valley, White Rabbit Trail/Hummingbird and around Crescent Falls.

Though they have seen smoke, no fires have been within sight. Despite a number of trail closures nearby, Alvard said it has been business as usual at the store.

”Road conditions weren’t too great considering I couldn’t see across the street,” said Alvard about the fog.

Barry Shellian, Alberta department of agriculture and forestry wildlife information officer, said the peak burning time is around the late afternoon.

According to Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, the fire by Crescent Falls was out of control and 67 hectares in size and a fire north of Nordegg was only 0.1 hectares large and under control. Two more fires are being held, a 1,350 hectares fire in the Coral Creek area and a 493 hectare fire in the upper South Ram drainage area.

Ernst said he was surprised there wasn’t a fire ban put in place as they’ve had a hot and dry summer.

“It really is extremely dry,” said Ernst. “People shouldn’t make fires at all. It’s very, very dry out here.

“Right now I have no concerns.”

The Rocky Forestry Area is currently under a fire advisory and all fires except for campfires are prohibited. Heat sources such as charcoal briquettes, portable propane fire pits, gas or propane stoves and barbecues and catalytic or infared-style heaters are permitted.

mcrawford@reddeeradvocate.com

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