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Alberta firefighters battling ‘out of control’ wildfire near Bragg Creek

Click to play video 'Local state of emergency declared in M.D. of Foothills due to wildfire' Local state of emergency declared in M.D. of Foothills due to wildfire
WATCH: A local state of emergency and an air quality advisory are in effect in the M.D. of Foothills. As Jill Croteau reports, it's in response to a wildfire burning just 15 kilometres southwest of Bragg Creek – May 28, 2018

Alberta Wildfire is currently on the scene of an “out of control” wildfire near Bragg Creek that started early Sunday. Crews said on Monday the fire didn’t grow overnight, but it was still classified as out of control.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia sends 27-member crew to fight wildfires in Alberta

According to fire information officer Matthew Anderson, the wildfire was about 100 hectares in size at its peak early Monday. By late afternoon it had been reduced to about 60 hectares, officials said.

The fire is burning near the south end of the McLean Creek area.

Anderson said crews were focused on reinforcing the fireguard on Monday. As of noon, no homes were threatened by the blaze.

As of 1:15 p.m. Monday, a voluntary evacuation was in place for areas west of Highway 762, between Highway 22 and 178 Avenue West in the MD of Foothills.

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WATCH: Large ‘out of control’ wildfire continues burning near Bragg Creek

Click to play video 'Alberta firefighters battling ‘out of control’ wildfire near Bragg Creek' Alberta firefighters battling ‘out of control’ wildfire near Bragg Creek
Alberta firefighters battling ‘out of control’ wildfire near Bragg Creek – May 27, 2018

Hot, dry and windy conditions were a concern for fire crews on Monday. Heavy ground smoke was affecting areas to the east of the fire, including along Highway 762 between Highway 549 and Highway 22. Drivers are asked to use caution in the area.

Because there was no lightning in the area, Anderson said investigators are looking into whether the fire was human-caused.

LISTEN: Redwood Meadows fire chief Rob Evans provides an update on the fires near Bragg Creek for Gord Gillies on The Morning News

At around 4 p.m. Sunday, an emergency alert was issued to mobile users by the MD of Foothills warning people to avoid the area and prepare for possible evacuations.

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“A wildfire is currently burning approximately 16 km west of Bragg Creek and is moving in a northeasterly direction towards the extreme northwest corner of the MD of Foothills,” the alert read. “Avoid the area. Prepare for possible evacuations.”

Helicopters depart from Elbow Valley Fire Station to assist in firefighting efforts.
Helicopters depart from Elbow Valley Fire Station to assist in firefighting efforts. Global News

Redwood Meadows fire chief Rob Evans said Sunday that people in the backcountry should be aware and take precautions.

An Alberta Wildfire official told Global News that fire crews have made progress, but that the fire is still classified as out-of-control.

READ MORE: Emergency Alert ends for northern Alberta hamlet of Janvier and neighbouring communities

“The fire is… still classified as out-of-control but our crews have been doing a lot of hard work on the fire today so we are still calling it about 100 hectares in size but the air tankers did a good job boxing in on the flanks and a touch ahead of the fire. Now the crews are working with the helicopters. We have five helicopters bucketing heading targeted spots for the rest of the evening,” said the official.

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Because of a second, nearby fire, an alert was issued Sunday for the Mclean Creek public land use area in Kananaskis. People were asked to be prepared to evacuate, although an evacuation order isn’t in effect at this time.

“Smoke in the area may impact driving conditions and air quality,” the alert warned. People are being asked to avoid Highway 762, Highway 549 West of Millarville and Highway 66 West of Bragg Creek.

Officials also advised against backcountry travel in the Mclean Creek public land use zone.

Large plumes of smoke could be seen from a distance as firefighters battle a wildfire near Bragg Creek.
Large plumes of smoke could be seen from a distance as firefighters battle a wildfire near Bragg Creek. Rob Evans / Redwood Meadows Fire

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Large plumes of white smoke could be seen from a distance from Calgary.

Evans said the wildfire is burning in a cut block in the forest which is why there is heavy smoke.

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“There’s heavy slash, old debris in the area, and that’s why it’s putting up so much smoke.”

Rocky View County said their firefighters were on scene to assist local first responders. As well, crews are there to monitor the situation for potential impacts on Bragg Creek.

Rocky View County issued a statement Sunday night that said the fire was not yet under control but growing and moving very slowly in a north-easterly direction.

“There is no immediate danger to the Bragg Creek area and no need for evacuation. There is not expected to be much change to the situation overnight or into tomorrow morning,” the statement read.

The notice also stated that all residents of the area are being asked to stay connected to local media for updated information.

“Rocky View County recommends that when you retire to bed this evening you ensure that your cell phone does not go into night mode so that it can continue to receive Safe & Sound and Alberta Emergency Alert/Alert Ready messages in the unlikely event the situation does change.”