Between 80 and 100 firefighters were battling a wildfire near the town of Bonnyville in northeastern Alberta on Monday and into Tuesday.
The Municipal District of Bonnyville said on its Facebook page that the fire started Monday evening west of the town along a range road between highways 28 and 660.
The flames erupted in a ditch near Pelican Point on Moose Lake and spread rapidly due to tinder-dry conditions in the Moose Lake forest area, the municipal district said.
The fire was out of control on Monday, but no evacuation order was issued.
In an update Tuesday morning, Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority fire Chief Jay Melvin said the 90-hectare fire was being held.
Officials say natural barriers, including the lake, were protecting the community of around 6,000, which is located about 240 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.
On Tuesday morning, crews were creating a 25-foot cat guard south of the fire, and the municipal district said once that was done, planes would begin water bombing the north perimeter close to the lake.
After that, four eight-man teams would begin working on either side of the fire.
Fire crews from Bonnyville, Glendon, La Corey and Iron River, as well as Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, were fighting the wildfire along with private heavy-equipment operators working on the cat guards.
Six fixed-wing aircraft, three helicopters and a dozen fire trucks were aiding firefighters.
“I appreciate the hard work of all of our firefighters, crews from Alberta Forestry, and appreciate residents giving us room to work,” Melvin said in a statement Monday night, adding that he anticipated another full day of firefighting efforts on Tuesday.
Melvin asked people to avoid the area and stay off of Moose Lake so that water bombers could do their work.
Shortly before 3 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, the Municipal District of Bonnyville issued an update on the situation saying wind had started fires inside a cat guard. Flames jumped the north guard but were later contained while crews were still working to contain the fire where it jumped the south guard.
Officials said the community of Franchere was evacuated as well as some campgrounds. Meanwhile Range Road 474 was closed at Highway 28 and Secondary Highway 660.
Boat launches at Vezeau Beach, Bonnyville Beach, Birch Grove, North Shore Heights and Turcotte remains closed.
At 6:30 p.m., Alberta Emergency Alert said while a wildfire continued to burn, the alert had been cancelled.
As of Tuesday morning, there were 21 wildfires burning across Alberta, with eight of them being classified as “out of control.”
Of the wildfires burning across northern Alberta, there are three main ones affecting communities:
- The far northwestern Chuckegg Creek wildfire near High Level, which was at 275,985 hectares on Tuesday
- The McMillan Complex wildfire north of Slave Lake, which measured 246,083 hectares on Tuesday
- The Battle Complex wildfire near Manning in the Peace River region, which was 56,200 hectares on Tuesday
Watch below: High Level residents who have returned to the town following an evacuation order prompted by a wildfire are doing their best to getting back to their regular routines. Tom Vernon reports.
High Level residents starting to get back into their routines
—With files from the Canadian Press