A fire burns near High Level, Alta. on May 21, 2019 in this handout photo from the Alberta Government. Despite heavy smoke, officials say a lighter wind out of the northeast has allowed for great progress on reining in a wildfire that’s forced thousands of people from their homes in northern Alberta. Authorities say the Chuckegg Creek fire remains out of control as it churns about three kilometres south of High Level, but favourable weather on Tuesday allowed crews to protect power poles west and south of the community. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Chris Schwarz, Government of Alberta

Hot, dry, windy conditions lead to warning that Alberta wildfires could blow up

Chuckegg Creek fire, the largest in the province, is still about three kilometres southwest of High Level

Hot, dry conditions and gusty winds have led to what fire watchers call a red-flag warning across northern Alberta’s forest.

The Chuckegg Creek fire, the largest in the province, is still about three kilometres southwest of High Level, where crews have created a firebreak to protect the community.

“We’re still experiencing extreme fire conditions throughout most of the province, including the areas around High Level, and really the rest of the boreal regions of northern Alberta,” Derek Gagnon, a provincial information officer, said in an interview Wednesday afternoon.

“We saw some pretty significant fire growth on a number of our wildfires yesterday.”

The fire near High Level has grown to 1,500 square kilometres — an increase of 200 square kilometres from Tuesday.

Gagnon said a new fire around Steen River, which is also in the High Level forest area, grew 170 square kilometres in its first day.

“We were forced to evacuate one of our fire bases … but it’s not threatening any communities,” he said. “There are occasional residences and cabins along Highway 35 that would have been forced to leave the area, but no large groupings of houses.”

Several highways around High Level are now closed due to the fires.

Officials said, however, that the firebreak continues to keep the flames away from the town.

About 5,000 people were ordered to leave High Level and surrounding communities more than a week ago. Those evacuees have started to receive provincial emergency funds but have been told not to expect to return home before this weekend.

The red-flag warning, which comes from a fire weather meteorologist, warns firefighters that there’s potential for fires to blow up in some areas.

“It’s a bit of an alert for our operations staff,” said Gagnon. “It’s something to pass along to them that says, ‘Hey, this is something to look out for because the fire danger conditions are going to be extreme. If you are going to be putting firefighters on the ground, keep in mind that these fires can grow very quickly and spread very quickly and it can put them into danger.’”

There were seven out-of-control fires, including the two in the High Level area, burning Wednesday in northern Alberta.

One called the Battle fire in the Peace River area led to an evacuation order Wednesday in the County of Northern Lights. It wasn’t immediately known how many people were affected.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

RCMP deal with snow-related incidents

The police in Ponoka were a busy bunch as December showed how… Continue reading

Addiction leads to jail for Ponoka man

Man pleads to nine out of 21 charges that included property offences

PHOTOS: Children’s Christmas Shopping Party

Helpful elves: The Children’s Christmas Shopping Party, sponsored by the Ponoka and… Continue reading

REFLECTIONS: They came from Nova Scotia to the pristine countryside near Ponoka

By Mike Rainone for the News The rugged, challenging, and colourful saga… Continue reading

Proposed health care changes would be “devastating” to rural family practice: president of AMA

AHS, AMA and MLA Ron Orr chime in on recent health care announcements

China hints at national security trials for 2 Canadians detained for one year

The two Canadians’ detention is largely seen as retaliation for the arrest of a Huawei exec

Teen seriously injured: Police in Lethbridge, Alta., charge 5 people in swarming

Police say a 16-year-old boy made arrangements to meet with a young woman before he was attacked

PODCAST: The Expert welcomes AA Lacombe General Jared Williams

Lacombe resident joined Red Deer Advocate Sports Reporter Byron Hackett and Host Todd Vaughan

No reports yet of Canadians affected by New Zealand volcano eruption, feds say

Missing and injured included tourists from the U.S., China, Australia, Britain and Malaysia

Online ‘direct threats’ lead to cancellation of school dance in Blackfalds

Threats resulted from Grade 4 social studies class discussing energy sector

Blackfalds RCMP warn of poor driving conditions on QEII

Vehicles have been involved in collisions and are in the ditch

MP Blaine Calkins: Alberta left behind in Speech from the Throne

Liberal course does nothing for Alberta economy, crime

Would you leave your baby alone to go to the gym? This Canadian dad did

The man identifies just as a divorced dad with a nine-month-old baby

Most Read