ALBERTA

Alberta Wildfires: Nordegg Lodgepole Fire Evacuations Continue, Calgary Under Fire Ban

05/14/2013 12:51 EDT | Updated 07/14/2013 05:12 EDT
PaulineeeRose

As the threat of wildfire grows higher and higher across Alberta, forcing people to evacuate the towns of Nordegg and Lodgepole, the City of Calgary has issued a level three fire ban.

No open flames are permitted anywhere in the city, with the exception of household fireplaces and propane or gas barbecues.

Many small towns in Central and Southern Alberta are also under fire ban including Airdrie, Olds, Innisfail, Wetaskiwin and Camrose. (Click here to see more fire ban areas.)

Much of Northern Alberta is under a fire prevention notice.

Evacuation orders remain in place for the towns of Nordegg and Lodgepole, as wildfires continue to burn out of control in those areas, threatening homes.

About 100 people were forced to leave Lodgepole when a fire, covering an area of about 12 square kilometres, was within two kilometres of the community Monday.

Another 100 were forced to flee Nordegg.

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Alberta 2013 Wildfires

Clearwater County spokeswoman Christine Heggart said between 45 and 55 people live in Nordegg year-round and there are a good number of seasonal residents as well. The county said everyone had left.

According to the Clearwater Regional Fire Rescue Service Twitter feed, firefighters have been out the past two nights trying to control the blaze.

Nordegg is about 200 kilometres southwest of Edmonton and the surrounding area is popular for hiking and fishing.

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The flames crossed a forestry trunk road near Nordegg overnight and crews were working to build new fire guards. By Monday evening, the fire was reported to be more than three square kilometres in size, though officials said it had not grown much during the day.

Firefighters and heavy equipment were to work overnight and air tankers were expected to be called in on Tuesday.

In all, there were more than 100 firefighters, various heavy equipment and air tankers, and six helicopters fighting the blaze. As of Monday evening, there were no reports of structure damage.

The spread of the fires will depend on whether conditions. Ron Leaf, chief administrative officer for Clearwater County, said crews were looking to the sky for some help with the Nordegg fire, which was 1.5 kilometres from the hamlet.

"The forecast is for 40 per cent chance of precipitation on Tuesday, so a lot of it really depends on how much it cools off and how much the winds die," Leaf said.

Last week, a provincial official said conditions in some parts of Alberta were similar to May 2011 when flames roared through the town of Slave Lake. Hundreds of homes were destroyed and thousands of people were forced to flee. The wildfire caused an estimated $1 billion in damage, including firefighting and relief costs.

All burning permits have been suspended in the forested areas of Alberta.

A raging wildfire also forced an evacuation in British Columbia's southern interior between Ashcroft and Kamloops. The order to get out came as high winds fanned the two-week-old Spatsum Creek blaze.

One structure was destroyed early Sunday, but fire officials said the flames were moving away from homes and toward a highway.