'Out-of-control' wildfire forces mandatory evacuations in MD of Greenview

An out of control wildfire burning about 10 kilometres north of Fox Creek has forced mandatory evacuations in the MD of Greenview.

The current size of the wildfire is 800 hectares

The fire is encroaching on the Trilogy energy plant north of the community but it is moving away from the facility. (Facebook/Fox Creek Fire Department)

An out-of-control wildfire burning about 10 km north of Fox Creek, Alta., has forced mandatory evacuations in the municipal district of Greenview.

The evacuation areas are south of the hamlet of Little Smoky, south of the Iosegun River and all of Township 65 on both sides of Highway 43.

A state of local emergency has also been declared for those areas. Evacuees are asked to report to the Paradise Inn in Valleyview.

Barry Shellian with Agriculture and Forestry said the fire is roughly nine km southeast of the nearest community and is moving north.

"The fire is demonstrating extreme wildfire behaviour and it's growing rapidly," said Shellian. 

The fire is currently 800 hectares, far larger than the 60-hectare fire that was being fought only hours ago. 

There are currently 15 air tankers, 38 firefighters, 18 pieces of heavy equipment and eight helicopters fighting the fire.

Shellian said the heavy equipment on scene will work throughout the night around the flanks of the fire to build a perimeter.

Firefighters and the heavy equipment will be focusing on the southwest portion of the fire overnight.

A second out-of-control wildfire started in the area at 9:17 p.m. Sunday.

The one-hectare fire is seven km west of Highway 32 and no structures or communities are currently being threatened.  

Both fires are expected to grow overnight and on Monday.

Near Fox Creek 

Fox Creek Mayor Jim Ahn said having a fire so near the town is "very discomforting."

"It's very worrisome. They are doing what they can to keep the fire under control but I realize it is out of control."​

The fire was also encroaching on the Trilogy energy plant north of the community. But Shellian said it is now moving away from that facility as well.

He said the fire is being bolstered by dry conditions and the wind. 

Fox Creek and Little Smoky are about 250 km northwest of Edmonton.

'It's very dry in the forests'

Shellian said the fire grew more than 10 times larger in just a few hours because of record levels of "fire indices" — numbers that measure burning conditions.

"The other thing is the snow cover went fast," said Shellian.

"What the snow does is provide insulation for the vegetation underneath, so when the snow goes all the vegetation has an opportunity to lose moisture and it all became very dry."

Shellian said because of these reasons the ground is more dry than usual at this time of year and therefore this fire, and others, have been able to spread quickly. 

"It's very dry in the forests and there is going to be some real challenges managing the wildfires this summer."