Wildfires force evacuations in Alberta, B.C.
Evacuations affect Nordegg and Lodgepole in Alberta and rural area near Ashcroft, B.C.
Wildfires have forced evacuations in two Alberta communities and in the B.C. interior.
Emergency alerts have been issued for Nordegg and Lodgepole in Alberta because two separate fires are burning within a few kilometres of each community, and a rapidly growing fire in central B.C. has forced the evacuations of about 50 homes.
The fire near Nordegg, 200 kilometres southwest of Edmonton, has been burning for several days with residents on a one-hour evacuation notice since Thursday.
The fire grew overnight reaching more than 300 hectares.
Duncan MacDonnell with Alberta Sustainable Resource Development said crews had the fire contained, but officials were still poised to issue an evacuation order if the blaze broke through any containment points.
MacDonnell said the fire near Lodgepole, which is about 100 kilometres southwest of Edmonton, is new.
Wildfire information officers with the province said late Sunday that as the sun set and winds died down, the situation with both fires appeared to be calming down and their spread was slowing.
About 100 Nordegg residents were forced from their homes.
About 140 people from Lodgepole registered at the evacuation centre in Drayton Valley. Displaced residents said they couldn't believe how quickly the situation escalated.
"Next thing I hear was the siren," said Gail Tkaczyk. "And it's the police officer coming down the driveway and we've got to go. No time to think twice."
"You don't have enough time to really think properly," said Evangeline Braun. "Grabbed my dog and it was get on the road. That was that quick. So there wasn't much time at all."
Braun said the volunteers at the evacuation centre have been kind and helpful. "I want to say thank you to all of them," she said.
1,260 hectares burn near Lodgepole
Roughly 1,260 hectares were burning in the fire near Lodgepole by early Monday evening as winds had pushed the blaze towards the community.
About 120 firefighters were on the ground, with more expected on Tuesday.
The fire was considered "laying low" as of Monday at noon, but firefighters remained concerned the winds could pick up in the afternoon.
Residents living a few miles east of Lodgepole near Highway 620 and Range Road 90 are taking in stride a one-hour evacuation alert.
"Nothing we haven't seen before," said Ken Newby as he continued doing chores around the yard, noting there was less smoke than yesterday.
George Cook said he "didn't think it was anything to be concerned about," leaving for work as usual in Drayton Valley Monday morning.
Alberta issued a fire weather advisory for the province Sunday, saying that high winds and dry temperatures made the likelihood of uncontrolled wildfires high.
Residents of Nordegg are being told to go to Rocky Mountain House about 100 kilometres east of the community.
Lodgepole residents are being told to go to Drayton Valley, which is about 50 kilometres away.
Last week, a provincial official said conditions in some areas were similar to May 2011 when flames roared through the town of Slave Lake, destroying hundreds of homes and forcing thousands of people to flee. The wildfire caused an estimated $1 billion in damage, including firefighting and relief costs.
In B.C., the 1,100-hectare Spatsum Creek fire, west of Kamloops and about 20 kilometres south of Ashton, has more than doubled in size since Saturday as winds have fanned the flames.
Kevin Skrepnek, spokesman for the B.C. Wildfire Management Branch, says hot weather has caused an increase in the number of wildfires this year. There have already been 177 wildfires in the province since April 1 — all but two have been caused by human error.
With files from CBC News