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Nordegg wildfire being held; firefighters from B.C. and Quebec arrive to help

The RWF-038 wildfire burning near Nordegg, Alta. on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. Courtesy: Government of Alberta

A wildfire near Nordegg in the western Alberta foothills is now classified as “being held” by the province.

The RWF-038 wildfire, located about 19 kilometres west of Nordegg on the north side of Highway 11, was first detected Tuesday, July 19, and fire officials said it initially responded well to firefighting efforts.

A wildfire is considered “being held” when the blaze is not expected to continue to grow given current weather conditions and resources, according to the Alberta Wildfire Status Dashboard.

“Thanks to the hard work of firefighters and support staff, that fire was given a status of ‘being held.’ Last night it was no longer considered out of control, which is obviously great news that allowed the Clearwater County to lift that evacuation alert for the hamlet of Nordegg,” said Travis Fairweather, wildfire information officer with the government of Alberta, on Monday.

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“The surrounding provincial recreation areas still do have that actual evacuation order on them for now, but it’s definitely good news when we can see a status change like that.”

Read more: Out-of-control Nordegg wildfire grows overnight

The evacuation order, issued by Clearwater County, included several provincial recreation areas (Snow Creek, Dry Haven, Fish Lake, Goldeye Lake). The order for the Centre for Outdoor Education and Frontier Lodge remains in place.

The province said that evacuation orders and alerts issued by Clearwater County also remain in place.

Read more: Wildfire prompts evacuation orders in part of west-central Alberta

On Sunday, Alberta Wildfire released an update saying helicopters, heavy equipment and fire crews will continue to fight the blaze.

Heavy equipment will continue to gain ground access and build a fire guard along the fire’s southeast flank.

Fairweather said firefighters from British Columbia and Quebec have arrived in Alberta to help battle the blazes.

“We have resource-sharing agreements with pretty much all of Canada as well as internationally. So whenever the hazard is high here we’re able to bring in resources from other provinces. And then when it’s quiet here we’re able to share our resources with other provinces.

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“We put the request in a few days ago and fortunately Quebec came to the call. We also have 91 firefighters from British Columbia already in the province. They got in Friday, I believe,” Fairweather said.

Click to play video: 'Evacuation orders issued as wildfire grows in west-central Alberta' Evacuation orders issued as wildfire grows in west-central Alberta
Evacuation orders issued as wildfire grows in west-central Alberta – Jul 21, 2022

The current fire hazard in Alberta is high, he said, but that’s typical for this time of year. B.C. and Quebec were able to share their resources because they currently have “quiet” wildfire seasons, Fairweather said.

The approximately 70 firefighters from Quebec will be fighting two wildfires in the Lac La Biche area. There are about 90 firefighters from B.C. helping out.

“A standard deployment is 14 to 18 days, but we can have the opportunity to extend that if required,” Fairweather said.

 

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A cause for the wildfire is still being investigated.

“This time of year, whenever we see these hot, dry conditions, it’s just a reminder to all Albertans use a little extra caution out there, especially when having campfires or using off-highway vehicles.

“Last year, we saw about 67 per cent of all wildfires were human caused and those fires… are completely preventable. And those can pull resources away from these fires that we’re currently fighting.”

Fire advisories are still in effect for most of western and northern Alberta, including the area where this wildfire is burning. A fire advisory means there are no changes to existing permits but any new permits are considered on a case-by-case basis, according to the province.

–with files from Karen Bartko, Global News.

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