Cypress County orders evacuation, declares local state of emergency as wildfires burn
100 km/h gusts may have stoked the flames
- For the latest on this situation, see: Southeast Alberta fires leave 'blank, black slate' over farmers' fields.
Cypress County has ordered an evacuation and declared a state of local emergency as two wildfires burn in the area.
One of the wildfires is near the hamlet of Walsh, the other near the hamlet of Irvine.
The first fire was burning approximately eight kilometres south of Highway 1, between Range Road 12A and Graburn Road, according to a wildfire alert issued shortly before 5 p.m. Saturday.
As of 8:45 p.m., that fire was still burning in multiple locations: on the west side of Graburn Road, south of Township Road 110 and north of Township Road 104.
"Evacuate immediately. Avoid the area. Visibility will be affected. Take all necessary precautions. Anyone affected should report to the Cypress County Administration Office in the hamlet of Dunmore to receive further instructions for temporary shelter," the wildfire alert instructed.
The second fire was on the north side of Highway 1 and five kilometres west of Irvine, burning to the west, according to an alert issued after 6 p.m. That alert was cancelled at 8:20 p.m.
A water bomber drops its payload onto a wildfire south of Walsh, Alberta. Shot from the TransCanada Highway. This is the 3rd, but largest grassfire we’ve passed since just west of Suffield. It’s hot, dry, & extremely windy folks. Be fire aware. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/abfire?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#abfire</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/CBCCalgary?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CBCCalgary</a> <a href="https://t.co/KPOfEC6PbU">pic.twitter.com/KPOfEC6PbU</a>—@shamukemo
Emergency services were on scene and water bombers were seen fighting the fires.
Strong winds may have been stoking the flames.
A wind warning for the area ended at 6:15 p.m. It had cautioned that a cold front was bringing in 100 km/h gusts.
"Damage to buildings, such as to roof shingles and windows, may occur," Environment Canada warned.
Both hamlets are located east of Medicine Hat along the Trans-Canada Highway. Irvine is roughly 35 kilometres east of Medicine Hat, while Walsh is located just a few kilometres west of the Alberta-Saskatchewan border.