UPDATE: Thursday, May 19 at 10:00 a.m. MT: The state of local emergency for the MD of Greenview was ended. The wildfire that was impacting the Little Smoky and Fox Creek areas is being held.
UPDATE: Wednesday, May 18 at 4:45 p.m. MT: Residents south of Little Smoky and residents of the Town of Fox Creek are no longer under immediate threat and the evacuation alert is cancelled. The State of Local Emergency for the MD of Greenview remains in effect to assist wildfire operations.
UPDATE: Tuesday, May 17, 2016, 9:42 a.m. MT The Little Smoky area evacuation order has been rescinded. A two-hour evacuation notice is in effect for the Town of Fox Creek and residents previously evacuated from the Little Smoky area.
EDMONTON – A state of local emergency was dropped Thursday morning in northwestern Alberta, where a wildfire that was threatening the Little Smoky and Fox Creek areas was being held.
A mandatory evacuation order was lifted Tuesday morning for residents whose community was threatened by a wildfire.
About 200 residents in the Municipal District of Greenview, south of the Hamlet of Little Smoky between Township Roads 650 and 664 and Range Roads 210 and 215 on both sides of Highway 43, were allowed to return home but remain on a two hour evacuation notice. The evacuation notice was also in effect for the Town of Fox Creek and Little Smoky.
Fox Creek and Little Smoky are about 260 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.
An Alberta Emergency Alert said an evacuation order will be issued again if the fire conditions change.
A mandatory evacuation was issued Sunday.
A reception centre was established at the Paradise Inn in Valleyview and evacuees were asked to report there.
Small animals were allowed at the motel and residents were asked to coordinate the evacuation of larger animals with the Fox Creek Fire Department. Those animals were sheltered at the Valleyview Agricultural Society Grounds.
The fire started at about 1 p.m. Sunday, and by Monday morning it was about 800 hectares in size.
“I would classify it as an intense fire,” wildfire information officer Shannon Stambaugh said.
Stambaugh said the extreme smoke prevented firefighters from getting a real understanding of how large the wildfire was initially.
Thirty-eight firefighters, 15 air tankers, eight helicopters and various pieces of equipment are fighting the blaze. The air tankers were expected to arrive Monday morning.
“Fire crews will continue to work until sunset or until it is safe to do so,” Stambaugh added.
The wind was fanning the flames away from Fox Creek Sunday evening and Monday morning.
“It was very concerning,” Jim Ahn, mayor of Fox Creek, said. He added his town “is opening its doors to evacuees.”
“Even though the winds are high, they are from the south, southwest so that’s pushing the fire away from the community at this time. But we do expect that fire to grow exponentially,” Chad Morrison with Alberta Wildfire said late Monday morning.
Morrison said the hot, dry, windy conditions expected over the next few days would make the situation tough for fire crews.
“We expect to be challenged in the many days ahead with the fire conditions that we’re going to see in the next few days.”
Overnight, heavy equipment built about 20 per cent of the fireguard on the southwest side of the wildfire.
Residents are being encouraged to take necessary precautions, follow the directions of authorities. Updates are provided at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on the Town of Fox Creek website.