UPDATE: For the latest information on the Parkland County wildfire, a new story for Friday, May 7 can be found here.
Parkland County issued a mandatory wildfire evacuation order early Friday morning for the following areas of the municipality west of Edmonton:
- Highway 22 to the west
- Township Road 524 to the north (Updated at 1:45 a.m. from Township Road 520)
- Range Road 63 to the east
- Township Road 510 to the south
Residents in those areas must evacuate immediately. Bring identification, medication, blankets, sleeping bags, personal items, important documents, household pets and pet care items if possible.
All evacuees are required to register at the reception center, either in person or by phone at the Tomahawk and District Sports Arena (51122 AB-759, Tomahawk, AB T0E 2H0.) Phone: 780-203-3258.
Previous story below:
Emergency officials are battling a wildfire near the rural community of Tomahawk in Parkland County.
An Alberta Emergency Alert said the wildfire was west of Tomahawk in the area of Range Road 62 and Range Road 70, and Township Roads 510 and 514. It is moving rapidly in a northwest direction, the alert at 9 p.m. said.
The fire flared up late Thursday afternoon near the hamlet south of Wabamun Lake. Photos and videos from area residents showed trees burning and a huge plume of black smoke in the air.
The smoke could be seen from as far away as Drayton Valley and Seba Beach.
It was windy across Alberta on Thursday, with the Edmonton region seeing sustained winds of around 30 km/h with guts of 52 km/h, according to Environment Canada.
The winds out of the southeast are expected to stay in the 25 to 50 km/h range overnight, possibly gusting to 60 in that area.
Fire growth is expected due to windy conditions, the alert said, adding crews will be working overnight to try and get it under control.
“Please take all necessary precautions, including leaving the area. Residents who live west of Range Road 62 to the western border of Parkland County should be prepared for possible immediate evacuation.”
A Global News crew at the scene was able to see that dozens of properties had been evacuated from Highway 624 and Range Road 63 all the way past Highway 22 up to Moon Lake.
County fire crews were too busy responding to the fire to speak with Global News on Thursday, and a command post could be seen set up on Range Road 63, north of Highway 624.
A government spokesperson said Alberta Wildfire crews were providing mutual aid support.
Air tankers were working in the area with more on way, the province said. At least two tanker planes were seen dropping fire retardant, and a helicopter was dumping water over the blaze.
RCMP have many roads blocked off in the area and Global News saw residents along some roads, ready to evacuate just in case. The wind was observed blowing away from the community.
One resident told Global News the area where the fire was burning is full of peat moss, which the Government of Canada says creates a lot of smoke and can be difficult to extinguish.
The county west of Edmonton had been under a fire bans and restrictions since mid-April, however they were lifted on Tuesday of this week.
BELOW: Photos from the Tomahawk wildfire