Wildfires force more evacuations in remote northern Alberta communities

People in a remote area in northern Alberta have been ordered to leave their homes because of an approaching wildfire.

The Alberta government issued a critical alert at 3:40 a.m. Thursday about a new wildfire in the Municipal District of Opportunity, west of Fort McMurray

The alert stated a new wildfire is rapidly approaching Chipewyan Lake Village, a community with a population of about 38, and may cut off access to the area.

Everyone who lives in the community about 130 kilometres west of Fort McMurray was ordered to leave immediately and proceed south to Calling Lake using Highway 813.

A reception centre has been set up at the Calling Lake Community Centre. “Caution should be used while travelling in the area due to heavy smoke,” the alert said.

A similar evacuation order was issued for the hamlet of Wabasca and the Bigstone Cree Nation — Wabasca No. 166 Wednesday evening because of “increased wildfire threat.”

Residents in those areas have also been told to head south on Highway 813 to Calling Lake and to register at the reception centre.

There are multiple fires in the region, according to Alberta Wildfire. The most significant is Slave Lake Wildfire No. 49, which is more than 74,000 hectares in size.

Wabasca is a hamlet in the Municipal District of Opportunity No. 17, located about 130 kilometres northeast of Slave Lake.

Meander River was also under a mandatory evacuation order as of 5:45 p.m. MT Wednesday. Many had already left the community voluntarily as wildfires in northern Alberta continue to burn out of control.

Meander River is a small community approximately 70 kilometres north of High Level. About 5,000 people from High Level and surrounding First Nations were forced to leave their homes because of wildfires on May 20.

Smoke from the wildfires is creating poor air quality in the Edmonton area. The air quality health index is at seven, which is high risk.

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