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Central Alberta highway reopens after wildfire prompts its closure

A photo of a wildfire taken from about 2 kilometres southeast of Edgerton, Alta. on April 27, 2018. COURTESY: Sheri White

Hours after a wildfire near the central Alberta village of Edgerton prompted an emergency alert for the Municipal District of Wainwright No. 61, officials said the fire was under control.

According to an alert issued Friday afternoon, Secondary Highway 610 was temporarily closed east of Edgerton and drivers were asked to avoid the area as crews worked to prevent it from advancing towards Edgerton. Visibility in the area was also affected by the blaze. It has since been reopened.

“The community of Edgerton is no longer under threat,” read an information alert issued Friday night.

On Firday afternoon, officials said a “grass and brush fire” southeast of Edgerton was propelling both the fire and the wind towards the village.

“The fire itself burned north until it got to the railroad tracks that do go through Edgerton, and they were able to hold it at the tracks there and not let it jump,” said Keith Steele, director of emergency management for M.D. of Wainwright No. 61.

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Steele said the alert was issued “so that if something happened, [either] the fire jumped the railroad tracks or Highway 610, we could pull the trigger on an evacuation immediately.”

“The fire itself was not coming directly into the village itself. It was east quite a ways but just the way the winds were, if it had jumped, it would have proceeded.”

Steele said three fire departments were called to respond to the blaze and worked to put fire breaks around it.

Area residents were asked to close their doors, windows and vents and anyone experiencing breathing difficulties was asked to seek medical help.

READ MORE: Wildfire season begins in Alberta

Watch below: March 1 marked the official start of wildfire season in Alberta. Joe Scarpelli filed this report on March 1, 2018.

Click to play video: 'Wildfire season begins in Alberta' Wildfire season begins in Alberta
Wildfire season begins in Alberta – Mar 1, 2018

Friday’s fire in Edgerton was just one of a number of wildfires that broke out in Alberta on what was a very warm day across much of the province.

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READ MORE: Half a dozen grassfires ignite around Rocky View County in 72 hours

“The wind is I would say roughly blowing to the northwest at approximately 20 kilometres an hour,” Steele said Friday afternoon. “It doesn’t seem like much, but when you’ve got a fire going which creates its own wind as well, between the two things it can really travel.

“We are some of the driest in the province right now and we don’t see anything in the forecast as far as rain.”

Steele said he believes the quick change in weather lately has played a role in the number of fires in the area this week.

“The biggest thing this year is with our late spring, everybody has had to hit the ground running… all of a sudden, we went from snow on the ground to dry conditions.”

READ MORE: Alberta fire season: a list of bans and advisories across the province

For the latest information, people can call the M.D. of Wainwright No. 61 at 780 842-4454 or visit its Facebook page.

Edgerton is located about 250 kilometres southeast of Edmonton.

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