A large out-of-control wildfire in northern Alberta has forced thousands of people to flee their homes.
According to an update from Alberta Wildfire on Thursday afternoon, the wildfire in Fox Lake covers about 4,400 hectares.
In a video posted to Facebook on Thursday, Little Red River Cree Nation Chief Conroy Sewepagaham said about 3,700 residents have evacuated the community.
In another video posted later Thursday, Sewepagaham said the fire has “grown significantly and continues to move westward.”
At a video update just after 8 p.m., Sewepagaham said as far as he can tell, all residents have been evacuated from the community but “unfortunately we are losing homes left and right and centre.”
A 6 p.m. update from Alberta Wildfire states that 20 households in the community, the police station and the Northern Store have been lost due to fire.
According to an update posted by the Little Red River Cree Nation’s Facebook page, on Friday there will be approximately 34 Alberta Wildfire firefighters, four helicopters, two heavy helicopters, heavy equipment and air tankers battling the wildfire.
Little Red River Cree Nation is made up of three Woodland Cree communities: Fox Lake, Garden River and John D’Or Prairie. The majority of the population lives in Fox Lake — east of High Level, about 600 kilometres north of Edmonton.
In High Level, town officials said in a news release they are preparing to host about 1,800 evacuees.
“As a primary destination for Albertans across Northwest Alberta, the Town of High Level and its residents are proud to continue to support our neighbours during their time of need,” said Mayor Crystal McAteer.
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen these types of emergency situations occur more regularly over the past few years. We recognize how stressful it can be for those that need to leave their homes behind to head to safety.
“We hope to be their safe haven and always work to make evacuees as comfortable as possible.”
According to Alberta Wildfire, there are 76 active wildfires in the province.
Hundreds of Albertans are on evacuation order due to wildfires burning throughout central Alberta.
A wildfire alert was issued for residents in Leduc County, south of Edmonton, near the village of Warburg.
The evacuation order is in effect for Range Road 41 east to Range Road 35 and from Township Road 494 north to Township Road 495. The affected area is about 6.5 kilometres north and eight kilometres west of Warburg.
An emergency alert was issued for the community of Wildwood, west of Edmonton, on Thursday afternoon, but the evacuation zone was extended Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. The area affected includes Pembina River west to Range Road 101, with a north border of Township Road 550 and south border to Township Road 520.
Included in the zone are the communities of Evansburg, Wildwood, Lobstick and Hansonville. A reception centre has been set up at the Edson Leisure Centre. Bus transportation to Edson is being provided from Tipple Park Museum and the Wildwood Community Hall.
In nearby Entwistle, an evacuation order was issued by Parkland County Thursday night. The order affects the area west of Range Road 65 to the Pembina River, north of Township Road 530 to Highway 16, including all residents of Entwistle.
Residents are being told to evacuate the area immediately and a reception centre is being set up at the Wabamun Jubilee Hall, at 5132 53rd Ave. in Wabamun.
Drayton Valley evacuation
There is also an evacuation order in place for residents in Brazeau County and Drayton Valley due to an out-of-control wildfire. Late Thursday, the Town of Drayton Valley issued an evacuation alert for the community of about 7,000 people.
“Bring important documents, medication, food, water and supplies for at least three days,” the town told residents on its Facebook page. “Take pets with you.”
The town also said fire crews will be working in the area, and asked people to avoid the area and give the crews space to work.
An Alberta emergency alert issued at 3:50 a.m. MT Friday said all residents in the area of Township Road 484 North to Township Road 494, and North Saskatchewan River West to Range Road 80 must evacuate immediately.
The alert includes the entire town of Drayton Valley. Residents were told to evacuate via Highway 22 north to Highway 624. Follow 624 to Tomahawk. Follow 624 East toward Stony Plain.
Evacuees are being directed to emergency reception centre at the Edmonton Expo Centre, where they are to register at Hall C.
There is also a wildfire prompting an evacuation southwest of Brazeau Dam west of the Brazeau River. The evacuation area is bounded by Elk River Road on the north, the Brazeau Reservoir on the east, just past Brazeau River on the south, and Rage Road 145.
“Tactical evacuations are being done. This wildfire primarily affects oil and gas industry, but anyone within the area must evacuate,” reads the emergency alert posted Thursday night.
Lac Ste. Anne County issued an evacuation order Thursday for everyone between Range Road 60 and 64, from Township Road 554 to Highway 43.
There is a wildfire near Range Road 60 and Township Road 560, the county said. A reception area is open at the Sangudo Arena in Sangudo.
At 6:22 p.m. Thursday, an evacuation order was issued for Cold Lake First Nation for people south of Township Road 614 and up to Range Road 24. The fire is moving west toward Range Road 24, the alert says. One home has already been lost.