Edmonton

Nisku company jumps into action to move firefighter camp near Slave Lake

Fox Oilfield Hauling wasted no time when winds put the firefighter camp near Slave Lake in harm's way. Trucks rushed in to move the lodges and other camp buildings to a safer locale.

Fire camp moved as a precaution for safety of 350 firefighters, contractors and staff

A waterbomber can been hovering in the distance over a Fox Oilfield Hauling winch truck in the Slave Lake area. (Stofer James/Fox Oilfield Hauling)

Sometimes even first responders — or at least their lodgings — need to be rescued.

Fox Oilfield Services out of Nisku recently helped set up camps for fire crews near Manning and Slave Lake.

When winds changed Thursday, threatening the Slave Lake camp, the company's crews jumped into action to move the portable buildings to a safer location.

An Alberta Wildfire spokesperson confirmed the relocation was a safety precaution and the 350 contractors, firefighters and staff were not in any imminent danger when the camp was moved.

Fox Oilfield office administrator Cindy Hall said the company had five trucks ready to go. Additional vehicles and drivers were hired to move the camp buildings out of the danger zone.

The exact locations of the fire camps can't be disclosed for security reasons, the company said.

Each year, Fox Oilfield is involved in preparation for fire season.

"We were definitely a major part of the [2016] Fort McMurray fire," Hall said. "We've done this before so we're quite experienced in what we need to do. Always about early spring we get into talks and talk fire season — who has won contracts and what it's kind of looking like."

Hall said by the time those talks started this year there had already been wildfires north of High Level so it's anticipated to be a busy season.

"We're told that the forecasters are calling for a very hot, dry summer," she said. "If it continues with the forecast the way it is, it looks to be this is what we're going to look at for the rest of the summer."

An image of the fire near the community of Slave Lake captured by the Fox Oilfield Hauling team. (Stofer James/Fox Oilfield Hauling)

The community of Slave Lake remains on an eight-hour evacuation alert while the near by community of Trout Lake is under an evacuation order.

On Friday, the latest update from the town said multiple fires are burning in the area but that preventive measures in place, including 24 water trucks at seven locations around town.

The update said the wind is "blowing favourably for the Slave Lake area and is expected to remain that way for the next couple of days."

All schools in the area are closed, as are the public library and town hall. The Salvation Army has a food truck on location for about 700 evacuees that have come to the community from other areas.