July 3, 2015 1:55 pm
Updated: July 3, 2015 8:32 pm

Wildfires threaten remote Alberta community, people forced from homes


WATCH: A wildfire burning out of control near Tallcree First Nation has forced about 200 from their homes. Lisa Wolansky has the details.

EDMONTON – Wildfires are threatening a remote community in northern Alberta.

About 200 people from the North Tallcree First Nation were evacuated as a precaution Thursday.

“It’s all geared towards public safety and human life… Wildfires are unpredictable by their nature,” said Scott Long with the Alberta Emergency Management Agency.

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“They got everybody out in a timely manner.”

A state of local emergency was also declared for the community of North Tallcree.

An out-of-control wildfire – that was about 1,500 hectares in size – was burning about five kilometres west of the community. Long said that fire was caused by lightning and fuelled by hot, dry weather and wind blowing in the direction of North Tallcree.

Crews were using bulldozers to create fire guards and sprinkler systems to protect homes.

As of 3:30 p.m. Friday “there has been no infrastructure burned,” said Long.

Another 400 people in a nearby area have been put on evacuation notice.

Alberta Transportation said the flames forced the closure of parts of Highway 88 on Friday, the main road into the region.

On Thursday, the province warned hot, dry conditions have pushed the threat of wildfires in forested areas to extreme levels.

There were 129 wildfires burning in the province Friday, including 51 that were out of control.

Alberta has more than 1,600 firefighters on duty and is calling in another 150 from other provinces in the next few days.

Due to the smoky conditions, Alberta Health Services issued a precautionary air quality advisory for the province Friday evening. Air quality conditions were forecast to get worse over the weekend.

This advisory comes after three others were issued: one for the North and Edmonton Zones on May 26, one for the Red Deer Zone on June 30 and one for northwestern communities issued on July 2. All advisories remained in place Friday.

People in Alberta are asked to be aware of the potential health concerns linked to smoky air conditions including irritation of eyes and throat and possible shortness of breath.

To check the Air Quality Health Index in your area, click here.

With files from The Canadian Press

© 2015 Shaw Media

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