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‘A monitor-and-wait situation’: Slave Lake watches weather as wildfire rages on

Slave Lake Wildfires 49 (background) and 50 (foreground) are seen in this aerial photo posted last week by Alberta Wildfire. Fire 49 is more than 155,000 hectares. (Alberta Wildfire/Facebook)

Slave Lake, Alta., has entered day three of an eight-hour evacuation alert as a wildfire rages about 35 kilometres north of town.

Mayor Tyler Warman said the alert likely won’t be lifted any time soon, as the town of 7,000 people is in “a monitor-and-wait situation.”

He said crews will watch for lightning on Saturday, which could act as an ignition source.

“We do anticipate some moisture in the area today. Not significant enough to get excited, but with it comes lightning,” Warman said, noting there has already been some lightning near the north end of the fire.

“We would need some significant rain for multiple days to really make an impact at this point. Things are just still dry and the fuel is extremely combustible.”

slave lake mayor tyler warman

Slave Lake Mayor Tyler Warman says crews are watching the weather as a wildfire burns 35 kilometres north of town. (Louise Moquin/CBC)

Temperatures in the region hovered around 20 C on Saturday, with wind coming from the southeast.

“Biggest concern moving forward is any new starts would pull additional resources, and so … hopefully the wind continues to work in our favour,” Warman said.

On Thursday, residents got the news that they should be packed and ready to leave on short notice. An evacuation order was issued that afternoon for the hamlet of Marten Beach, about 20 kilometres north of Slave Lake.

Preventative measures such as sprinklers and water tanks are in place to protect the two communities, Warman said.

“We’re doing, I think, as much as we can,” he said. “Really, it’s a waiting game.”

Multiple wildfires are burning across northern Alberta. About 11,000 people have evacuated their homes as a result, according to the province.

The federal government has sent military personnel and aircraft to Alberta to help with wildfires and evacuation efforts.

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