Alberta forest fire prompts Fort Smith, N.W.T., residents to prepare for evacuation

A forest fire is burning five kilometres from Fort Smith, on the Alberta side of the border, but hasn’t grown more than four hectares.

Forest fire burns five kilometres south of the community, but is only four hectares in size

Crews from the N.W.T. and Alberta responded to the fire around 1 p.m. Friday. It was considered 'being held' by 3 p.m. Alberta crews continue to monitor it. (Department of Environment and Natural Resources)

People in Fort Smith, N.W.T. are being told to prepare to evacuate the community due to a forest fire burning about five kilometres away.

The fire is on the Alberta side of the border, just south of Fort Smith, and hasn't grown more than four hectares.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the N.W.T. said its crews and crews in Alberta responded to the fire around 1 p.m. Friday.

It said the fire is under control and Fort Smith isn't at risk.

Officials with the Town of Fort Smith said they haven't declared a state of emergency, but residents should still be prepared. Winds are only gusting at 16 km/h, but they're coming from the south — where the fire is — which poses a greater risk to the community.

If residents do end up having to evacuate, they would likely go to Hay River, which is about three hours northwest of the community. (Google)

Officials said ways for people to prepare for an evacuation include filling up their vehicles' gas tanks. 

Some people in the community said the lineups at the gas station were "unreal" Friday afternoon.

They also said there wasn't any smoke in the air at the time, but airplanes and helicopters were monitoring the fire overhead.

If people do choose to leave Fort Smith, officials want them to fill out a registration form, which can be found at the community recreation centre.

Officials said an evacuation notice could come at a moment's notice, so residents should also gather any belongings they may want to bring with them.

Nearby communities, like Hay River, are aware of the situation in Fort Smith and are prepared to take in residents.

According to Natural Resources Canada, the fire danger in Fort Smith is "extreme."

Much of the Eastern and Southern parts of the N.W.T., including Fort Smith, are under 'extreme' fire danger. (Natural Resources Canada)