It’s not something you’d expect to hear in December, but a wildfire was burning out of control in the western Alberta foothills on Friday, south of Edson and Hinton.
Alberta Wildfire said the blaze broke out Friday afternoon in an area that has seen little snowfall so far this winter. On Saturday morning, a spokesperson with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry said the wildfire was “being held.”
High winds of more than 100 km/h fanned the flames.
A wind warning was issued for the foothills, and Environment Canada said gusts of 100 to 120 km/h were expected overnight and into Saturday, before the winds are set to weaken early Saturday afternoon.
The province said Friday that the wind speed has made it impossible to determine the size of the fire, which is burning about 14 kilometres northeast of the hamlet of Cadomin.
Ground crews were on the scene alongside heavy equipment such as graders and dozers.
An Alberta Emergency Alert said the wildfire was burning approximately 10 kilometres south of Robb and is heading north by northeast.
Residents of Robb and Mercoal were told their communities could potentially be affected by the fire. On Saturday, evacuation notices were lifted after five centimetres of snow overnight helped bring the fires under control.
The province estimated the fire had scorched 434 hectares of land.
Kevin Hampton, owner of Bryan Hotel in Robb, said the area is home to about 300 people.
He spotted “pretty good smoke” around 3 p.m. Friday.
Hampton said the skies cleared in the evening after wind persisted all day.
He thought the smoke was coming from near the Coalspur Mine, about 10 kilometres to the south.
Stefan Felsing with Yellowhead County said peace officers were in the area to assist residents in case an evacuation was needed.
Yellowhead County opened an emergency operations centre to coordinate its efforts, Felsing said.
Staff are in continuous contact with the province in case the situation changes, he added.
–With files from The Canadian Press