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High Level wildfires out of control at over 300 000 ha (740 000 acres), Alberta, Canada

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Devastating wildfires continue burning across Alberta, Canada, with 8 of total 24 out of control as of June 1, 2019. 60 fire bans are in place across the state, including in the cities of Edmonton and Red Deer. More than 11 000 people have been evacuated and another 12 000 placed on evacuation alert.

An eight-hour evacuation alert was issued for a large swath of Mackenzie County on Saturday afternoon, June 1 from the outskirts of High Level east to Fort Vermillion, and south towards the mandatory evacuation area around the Paddle Prairie Métis Settlement. The area is threatened by Chuckegg Creek fire which continues burning southwest of High Level.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we are putting a wide swath of the High Level area and Mackenzie County area on an 8-hour evacuation alert," county officials said.

The alert was issued due to shifting winds and dry conditions. This means residents – located in Mackenzie County east of High Level, in areas north and south of the Peace River, including people in La Crete, Fort Vermilion and Beaver First Nation’s Boyer River and Child Lake Reserves – should start getting prepared to evacuate: Fuel your vehicles; Gather important documents; Have enough food and water for 2 to 3 days.

"If a mandatory evacuation order is issued, bring medication, blankets, sleeping bags, personal items and identification."

"If you have livestock ensure that they are in a safe pasture with limited growth, or ploughed field and far from forested areas. There should be plenty of shade and water. Discing or ploughing the outside perimeter of the field to make a fire break will help prevent wildfire from jumping into this safety field. If you are required to evacuate and are unable to take your livestock please cut fences, open gates and leave lots of water. Take off any halters. Mark your animals with your phone number for ease of identification."

There are currently 2 active wildfires in the High Level Forest Area and both are Out of Control.

  • The Chuckegg Creek Wildfire (HWF-042) remains Out of Control (OC) at 279 551 ha (690 785 acres). The fire started during the first half of May and reached 40 500 ha (100 000 acres) on May 20. Its cause is still under investigation.
  • The Jackpot Creek Wildfire (HWF-066) around Steen River also remains Out of Control (OC) at 24 730 ha (61 109 acres). 

A Fire Ban and Off-Highway Vehicle Restriction is in effect for the High Level Forest Area due to warmer temperatures, gusty winds and no significant rain in the forecast. The ban and restriction will remain in effect until conditions improve. All fire permits are suspended and no new fire permits will be issued.

Prohibited

  • All open fires including campfires in campgrounds, backcountry and random camping areas and backyard fire pits.
  • Charcoal briquettes, turkey fryers and tiki torches.
  • Fireworks and exploding targets.
  • The use of off-highway vehicles for recreational use on all public lands.

Allowed

  • Portable propane fire pits that are CSA approved or UL certified.
  • Gas or propane stoves and barbecues that are CSA approved or UL certified and are designed for cooking or heating.
  • Catalytic or infrared-style heaters.

Featured image credit: Alberta Government

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