Firefighters battle major blaze north of Edmonton

    Firefighters battle major blaze north of Edmonton

17 May 2008

published by www.canada.com 


Alberta, Canada — Firefighters are hoping for a kind wind Sunday as they continue to battle a major wildfire that’s forced 150 residents from their homes north of Edmonton.

There was still no word Saturday as to when evacuees from Newbrook, Alta. – a hamlet about 100 kilometres north of Edmonton – would be allowed to go home.

Fire crews concentrated Saturday on keeping the flames contained to a portion of the 1,950 hectares that have already burned on the west side of the major highway in the area, Thorhild County reeve Henry Zolkewski said.

“A fire line around the fire is 90 per cent done. It is the remaining 10 per cent that is a concern if the wind shifts,” he said.

The fire is being fought with three air tankers, three helicopters, nine water trucks and four bull dozers, along with 150 volunteers and 90 staff members from the county, the province, CN and other nearby counties, Zolkewski said.

“We will know in the next day or two if we have it under control,” he said, adding a state of emergency remained in effect for the county until then.

Residents in the county surrounding the hamlet, which is located about 100 kilometres north of Edmonton, were on standby notice in case they, too, had to evacuate.

The blaze began around 1 p.m. local time Friday, rising out of dry pine trees and farmland in the county.

The blaze jumped to the east side of the major highway in the area later that evening, but crews were able to extinguish it before it got out of control.

Most of the evacuees were staying with friends and family, county manager Dan Small said.

The fire near Newbrook is just one of several burning in Alberta.

Fire crews continued Saturday night to fight blazes burning near Bruderheim, about 50 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.

The fires saw a “significant flare-up” on Saturday after being declared nearly out Friday.

A fire ban is in effect for the counties of Thorhild, Lamont, Smoky Lake and Westlock.


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