Residents of Nordegg —a small community west of Rocky Mountain House — have been placed on a one-hour evacuation notice due to an out-of-control wildfire.
Should the alert be raised tonight, the town's approximately 300 residents will have only one hour to pack their essentials and get out of town.
"The wildfire [is] about two kilometres away from Nordegg [and] has grown to about 100 hectares in size," said Geoff Driscoll, a fire information officer with the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD).
"It’s still classified as ‘out of control’ and firefighters will continue to fight it throughout the night."
The fire is still expanding, said Driscoll, but has been slowing down throughout the evening as winds calmed and the temperature cooled.
"The best time to fight fire is when the fire’s not that active, he said, "and that’s in the evening and into the early morning when it’s a lot cooler and the winds aren’t nearly as strong. It’s a lot harder to fight the fire into the afternoon hours when it’s a lot warmer."
"Right now, the winds are certainly a factor but firefighters will continue to fight this fire as hard as they can until it’s completely contained," he said, adding that the winds are expected to pick up again on Friday.
Driscoll said about 80 firefighters are now on scene fighting the blaze, and more are expected to arrive Friday morning.
The fire crews are also using heavy equipment such as bulldozers to contain the blaze, and had air tankers and helicopters in service until dark on Thursday night.
Driscoll said the air support will return at first light Friday.
"There’s about two kilometres between the fire and Nordegg which that doesn’t sound like very much," said Driscoll, "but... the way the fire’s burning now, that’s a lot for right now. And firefighters are going to continue to fight it throughout the night."
The county is expected to give an update on the fire's status at 8:00 a.m. Friday.
CBC's Laura Osman is on the scene and has spoken with several people at campsites in and around Nordegg. Some have reported seeing and smelling smoke in the area, while others reported noticing only the sound of the firefighters' helicopters overhead.
Earlier in the day, workers at the Nordegg Resort Lodge said they heard about the evacuation notice on the radio, but didn't know what it meant.
A woman answering the phone said her boss told her to talk to the ESRD.
She said there were workers from the department staying at the lodge and if it was that bad, the workers would have told them to leave.
Warm temperatures, dry vegetation and gusty winds have created very high wildfire conditions in the Rocky Mountain House region and across the province.
Driscoll said there are currently 15 other wildfires burning across the province, and that over 100 have been reported so far this year.
The two most common starters for wildfires in the province are lightning and human activities, according to Driscoll.
"These fires at this time are more than likely human-caused, and human fires are of course 100% preventable."