Fire near Grassland forces evacuations

Rural homes have been evacuated and a section of Highway 63 is closed as firefighters battle another wildfire.

Crews also continue to battle Lodgepole wildfire

RCMP have closed down a section of Highway 63 and people are evacuating the area as a large wildfire burns near Grassland (Courtesy Emma Sanchez Dardon)

Rural homes near Grassland, north of Edmonton, are being evacuated as firefighters battle another wildfire.

Boyle RCMP have closed a the section of Highway 63, between Highway 55 and Wandering River, because of the fire.

Athabasca County Reeve David Yurdiga confirmed one home was destroyed and two machine shops were burnt. The fire was estimated to be about 700 hectares in size.

About 15 homes have been evacuated.

"There's fire trucks going by, vehicles, water trucks. This is crazy... There are helicopters everywhere," said Chantel Skiba, 20, who lives within sight of the fire.

Skiba said a few people nearby have been evacuated and her neighbours have lost their garage to the flames.

Neighbours are helping each other pack in case they need to flee, she said, but many are reluctant to leave their homes.

"I would estimate the average farmer here has $1 million to lose easily," she said.

Fire still burning near Lodgepole

Firefighters are still trying to gain control of a 340-hectare wildfire near the town of Lodgepole, 30 kilometres outside of Drayton Valley.

Aircraft and bulldozers have been called in to fight the fire, which burns just outside of Lodgepole, Alta. Officials say they have the fire about 70 per cent contained. (Courtesy Alberta Sustainable Resource Development )

"We're making a lot of headway on it," said foresty information officer Barry Shellian. "Anything can happen at this point ... but we're confident with all our resources here."

Officials sent an announcement on Twitter Sunday afternoon saying they have the fire "70% contained."

RCMP first put out the warning about the fire Saturday and advised that people evacuate the area.

Shellian says they've brought in six aircraft to fight the fire and have been using bulldozers to build a guard around the perimeter.

According to the Alberta Wildfire Info Facebook page, a change in wind direction means a fire northwest of Bonnyville, is headed towards the town of Moose Lake, about seven kilometres away.

Firefighters will try to contain the blaze overnight. Residents are advised to monitor Alberta Emergency Alert just in case the area needs to be evacuated.