05/12/2013 04:10 EDT | Updated 07/12/2013 05:12 EDT

Advisory Issued As Crews Battle Wildfires Across Province

Clearwater County

Alberta officials are cautioning people in much of the province about dangerous wildfire conditions.

A wildfire advisory has been issued for central and southern Alberta. This advisory zone extends to just north of Edmonton.

“Dry conditions and expected winds between 70 and 80 kilometres per hour will push the fire hazard to extreme levels today and tomorrow,” said Duncan MacDonnell, a public affairs officer for Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD).

MacDonnell says the advisory is in effect for both grassy and forested areas.

“Conditions are very dry, [and] temperatures are expected to hit about 30 degrees today,” he said. “We’ll be seeing winds — in some places, gusts up to 80 kilometres an hour — and very low to no humidity.”

“It’s just going to be a burning day.”

“Albertans should be extremely careful if they’re out and about today,” said MacDonnell. “The fire hazard is extreme.”

Fire weather advisories are only issued when the likelihood of uncontrolled wildfires is high, added MacDonnell.

“If a wildfire does occur — especially in grassy areas — conditions may cause uncontrollable spread, making it difficult for firefighters to contain the wildfire.”

According to a release from the province, wildfires at this time of year are predominantly human-caused and are 100 per cent preventable.

There are already fire bans in many areas of the province.

All burning permits within the forest protection area of Alberta have been cancelled. No new permits will be issued.

Evacuation notice for Nordegg

The fire burning two kilometres outside Nordegg, west of Rocky Mountain House remains out of control as of 11:00 a.m. Sunday morning.

Residents in the small community were placed on a one-hour evacuation notice due to an out-of-control wildfire there on Thursday.

Clearwater County issued an evacuation notice for the hamlet and surrounding area around 6:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Since then, the fire has grown slightly from 100 hectares to 110 hectares.

About 150 firefighters are now battling the blaze, assisted by six helicopters and airplane waterbombers.

“The winds are certainly a factor but firefighters will continue to fight this fire as hard as they can until it’s completely contained,” said Geoff Driscoll, a fire information officer with the ESRD, on Friday.

Smoky Lake fire under control

A bushfire burning northeast of Smoky Lake is now under control.

The fire had been classified as “out of control” as of 6:00 p.m. Saturday evening.

Fire officials estimate the fire scorched about 25 hectares of land.

At one point, residents of three homes in the vicinity of the fire were on standby for evacuation.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Smoky Lake is about 100 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.

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