Canada — A wildfire raging in the County of Lamont consumed two homes on Monday evening, and two firefighters were injured battling the blaze, county officials say.
One injured firefighter is in stable condition in an Edmonton hospital. The other is in stable condition in Lamont hospital.
One of the homes that burned was unoccupied. Fifteen other buildings, including barns, shops and tool sheds, also burned down, mostly in remote farm land or on Crown land.
County officials say there is no imminent threat to other homes. No state of emergency has been declared and no evacuation order has yet been issued.
The so-called North East Skaro fire, burning northeast of Edmonton, is bounded on four sides by Township Road 582 and Township Road 572, and by Range Road 185 and Range Road 192. People are being asked to stay away from that area, said county spokesperson Heather Atkinson.
The fire has already covered more than 30 square kilometres.
Firefighters from Lamont County, Chipman, Andrew, Mundare and Bruderheim are battling the blaze.
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, there were 48 fires burning in Alberta’s “forest protection areas;” that total does not include the fires in Parkland Country or Lamont County.
Four of those fire are out of control, nine are listed as being “held,” and 16 are under control, said Matthew Anderson, a provincial wildfire information officer.
In all, 695 firefighters were battling blazes Tuesday, assisted by 60 helicopters and two air tankers.
To the west of Edmonton, a fire near Duffield forced residents from their homes on Monday.
Shawn McKerry, acting fire chief of Parkland County, said the fire was being held Monday morning, but as wind and temperatures picked up, the flames jumped the fire-line and the fire got out of control.
“It proceeded north to directly threaten a few of our subdivisions,” McKerry said. “We requested from site that the emergency operation look at declaring a local state of emergency. They felt comfortable at that time that the hazard was that significant … that they went through with that.”
Residents forced out of their homes were allowed back in for a short time Tuesday morning. Parkland County officials bused the families back to their homes to gather necessities.
“They made us have a priority list,” said Duffield resident Greg Fedorchuk. “We went to our cul-de-sac areas and grabbed all our junk.
“Soon as you go in you only get two minutes in, two minutes out. So, we had to write a list of everything. Only your basic necessities and an animal.”
Buses took residents who needed medication, left pets behind or had other immediate needs for the next 72 hours into the evacuated areas at 10 a.m.
“We’re thankful to hear that no homes have been lost, at least as of late last night,” said Daryn Ottenbreit, who lives at the north end of hamlet.
“There’s a lot of hot spots. Unfortunately, that wind didn’t do the fire services any favours yesterday. It scattered embers all across the countryside.”
The mandatory evacuation order covers residents of the hamlet of Duffield and the Duffield Downs subdivision.
Parkland County is also issuing a prepare-to-evacuate alert for residents of Clear Lake and Spruce Ridge Estates with Clear Lake residents prepared to leave on 10 minutes notice and Spruce Ridge Estates residents prepared for a one-hour notice.
No homes are in immediate danger, say county officials.
McKerry said five helicopters are dropping water and the county may have up to 80 firefighters on the ground by the end of the day.
“Until we have the fire completely under control and it’s 100-per-cent safe to get people back in their homes, people will be required to stay away.”
The fire has now covered more 200 hectares and moving slowly in all directions, but is expected to move to the northeast Tuesday.
Duffield students will attend classes at Seba Beach School for the next three days due to smoky conditions and in order to avoid a sudden evacuation, officials said.
So far this year, Alberta has had 157 wildfires, compared with 106 at this time last year.