Wabasca residents can return home after wildfires came close to community

Fire officials in northern Alberta say people forced to flee the hamlet of Wabasca can return home.

66 fires burning in Alberta with 19 out of control

Wildfires raging in Alberta

The National

6 years ago
Seventy fires are burning across the province, some of them out of control. Most are remote, but a few are creeping closer to cities and towns 3:27

Fire officials in northern Alberta say people forced to flee the hamlet of Wabasca can return home.

People were forced to leave the tiny hamlet on Sunday after wildfires threatened homes and businesses. 

On Tuesday morning, the 200-hectare fire, less than 10 kilometres from the community, did not grow appreciably overnight and was moving away from the hamlet. 

However provincial officials are worried that lightning strikes tonight may spawn even more fires as thunderstorms are forecasted in many areas of the province.

The province's numbers as at 10 a.m. MT Tuesday show the number of fires in the province at 66, down from 72 overnight with 19 considered out of control, down from 29.

Lightning is blamed for staring 55 fires Monday night.

Evacuated residents in Calling Lake  

About 4,000 Wabasca area residents took refuge in the community of Calling Lake, about 200 kilometres north of Edmonton. While many stayed at a local evacuation centre, others are staying in campers.

The remainder were housed in Athabasca.

On Monday an evacuation order was upgraded to mandatory as the wildfire remained out of control.

Second Chance Animal Rescue Society has sent workers to Wabasca to go door-to-door to feed and water pets or livestock left behind. 

A 10,000 hectare fire near Cold Lake forced Cenovus oilsands workers off the jobsite Monday. On Tuesday afternoon, more workers were evacuated from two other Cenovus projects — 90 construction workers from the Narrows Lake camp and two workers from the company's Birch Mountain natural gas plant.
A firefighting helicopter takes off from Slave Lake base Tuesday. (Terry Reith/CBC)

Oil and gas facilities are not threatened, but company officials worried the road out may be over run by the fire.

Alberta is now under a provincewide fire ban as hot, dry weather has elevated the fire hazard to high, very high or extreme over most of the province.

The wildfires have prompted Alberta Health services to issue a precautionary air quality advisory for the Edmonton area.

About 1,600 firefighters and approximately 100 aircraft are battling wildfires. Ontario and Quebec have sent additional resources to help out.

Watch waterbombers load up with water from Slave Lake to fight area wildfires 


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