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ALBERTA: Wabasca under mandatory evacuation, Slave Lake under alert (Update 2)

McMillan wildfire south of Wabasca spreads; Maria Lake wildfire expected to burn into McMillan fire
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Hundreds of evacuees from Wabasca and Bigstone Cree Nation - Wabasca 166 lined up outside the Calling Lake Recreation Centre May 29. Residents in that area were evacuated after the McMillan Wildfire Complex spread close to the community, growing to 74,506 hectares. ALLENDRIA BRUNJES/Athabasca Advocate

Communities just north and west of Athabasca are calling states of emergency and are under evacuation orders and alerts as high winds and dry conditions spread wildfires through the region.

At 8:44 p.m. on May 29, Wabasca and the Bigstone Cree Nation – Wabasca #166 were put under an evacuation order. On May 30 at 3:40 a.m. an evacuation order was placed on Chipewyan Lake Village, and at 12:19 p.m., the Hamlet of Marten Beach was also put under an evacuation order.

According to an emergency alert, the Municipal District of Lesser Slave River declared a local state of emergency at 11:22 a.m. due to advancing fires in the Marten Hills. The alert, issued at 12:19 p.m., also orders the immediate evacuation of the Hamlet of Marten Beach.

The Slave Lake Forest Area update for May 30 at 10 a.m. states the McMillan wildfire, located between Wabasca and Slave Lake, experienced significant growth the day before and overnight. It also states three new wildfires started the morning of May 30 east of Maria Lake wildfire, each at 1-20 hectares in size.

“(The McMillan wildfire) has spread south of highway 754,” it states. “The Maria Lake wildfire number 69 (located northwest of Wabasca) is expected to burn into the McMillan wildfire. With the gusty north winds today, the wildfires are expected to spread.”

Wabasca evacuation

On May 29, hundreds of residents poured into Calling Lake from Wabasca and the Bigstone Cree Nation – Wabasca #166 after an order to evacuate the area was issued May 29.

At 8:44 p.m. the Alberta Emergency Management Agency, on behalf of the Municipal District of Opportunity, gave the order to evacuate south along Highway 813 to Calling Lake. The alert also told evacuees to register at the Calling Lake Recreation Centre at 2870 Central Drive.

Athabasca County Reeve Larry Armfelt said he has emailed county administration and all council members as soon as he heard about the alert.

“I emailed County Manager Ryan Maier, as well as (Director of Emergency Services) Ron Jackson and (Director of Infrastructure Services) Travis Wierenga,” Armfelt said. “I have informed all the pertinent people, and then we will wait for word from administration to find out what to do.”

Jackson said at this time, what is on the alert is all the information that they know.

“The alert’s for the M.D. of Opportunity going down to Calling Lake,” he said. “While it does not involve Athabasca as of yet, it may somewhere down the road. But at this time, we were not requested to do anything.”

Jackson said they would essentially wait until the next morning to see if the M.D. contacts the county to ask for any kind of support.

“The district officers for the (Athabasca Emergency Management Agency) were unaware of what was happening until the alert went out,” he said.

According to Alberta Wildfire, the wildfire continues to burn on Wabasca Lake. It added RCMP closed a portion of Highway 754 in the area at 4:30 p.m. that afternoon.

It said the wildfire remains active on the northeast flank, having crossed the power line that runs north and south and outflanking Mistehae Lake. The report added crews were pulled from the east flank due to unsafe conditions.

“Heavy smoke is prevalent in Wabasca,” the report said.

The Slave Lake Forest Area update stated the wildfire is 10 kilometres from Bigstone Cree Nation – 166B and 166D on the west side of Wabasca Lake.

This evacuation was called four years after the 2015 evacuation of Wabasca. At that time, more than 2,000 evacuees registered at reception centres in Calling Lake and Athabasca.

Chipewyan Lake Village evacuation

The Alberta Emergency Management Agency, on behalf of the Municipal District of Opportunity, sent an emergency alert at 3:40 a.m. May 30, calling for the evacuation of Chipewyan Lake Village, which is about 140 kilometres north of Wabasca.

“A new wildfire has entered the M.D. of Opportunity and is rapidly approaching the Chipewyan Lake Village and may cut off access to this area,” it reads.

The alert tells residents to evacuate immediately, heading south on Al-Pac Road to Highway 813 and then to Calling Lake, where they should register as evacuees.

“Caution should be used while traveling in the area due to heavy smoke,” it states.

Slave Lake alert

The Town of Slave Lake issued an eight-hour evacuation alert May 30 at 10:16 a.m., telling residents to be prepared for a possible evacuation.

“The Town is not in imminent danger however residents should be prepared to evacuate on short notice,” the alert states. “Please ensure your have any medications or prescriptions, drinking water and food and fuel in your vehicle.”

Earlier Marten Beach alert, other alerts

The Emergency Coordination Centre along with the Municipal District of Lesser Slave River had sent an emergency advisory at 9:15 a.m. May 30, had warned residents of Marten Beach and anyone in Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park that they are on a two-hour evacuation alert.

“Due to extremely dry conditions and unstable wildfire activity in the area, the Hamlet of Marten Beach and Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park is on a two hour evacuation alert,” it states.

An update sent at 11:41 a.m. from the Municipal District of Lesser Slave River also states other areas of the M.D. are on an eight-hour evacuation alert, including the Old Smith Highway, Mitsue, Poplar Lane, Fawcett Lake, Eben Road and Bayer Road.

It instructs people there to prepare for possible evacuation, take all necessary precautions and follow the directions of local authorities.

— With files from Allendria Brunjes and Bryan Taylor

 

Original Story:

Hundreds of residents poured into Calling Lake from Wabasca and the Bigstone Cree Nation – Wabasca #166 after an order to evacuate the area was issued May 29.

At 8:44 p.m. the Alberta Emergency Management Agency, on behalf of the Municipal District of Opportunity, gave the order to evacuate south along Highway 813 to Calling Lake. The alert also told evacuees to register at the Calling Lake Recreation Centre at 2870 Central Drive.

Athabasca County Reeve Larry Armfelt said he has emailed county administration and all council members as soon as he heard about the alert.

“I emailed County Manager Ryan Maier, as well as (Director of Emergency Services) Ron Jackson and (Director of Infrastructure Services) Travis Wierenga,” Armfelt said. “I have informed all the pertinent people, and then we will wait for word from administration to find out what to do.”

Jackson said at this time, what is on the alert is all the information that they know.

“The alert’s for the M.D. of Opportunity going down to Calling Lake,” he said. “While it does not involve Athabasca as of yet, it may somewhere down the road. But at this time, we were not requested to do anything.”

Jackson said they would essentially wait until the next morning to see if the M.D. contacts the county to ask for any kind of support.

“The district officers for the (Athabasca Emergency Management Agency) were unaware of what was happening until the alert went out,” he said.

According to Alberta Wildfire, the wildfire continues to burn on Wabasca Lake. It added RCMP closed a portion of Highway 754 in the area at 4:30 p.m. that afternoon.

It said the wildfire remains active on the northeast flank, having crossed the power line that runs north and south and outflanking Mistehae Lake. The report added crews were pulled from the east flank due to unsafe conditions.

“Heavy smoke is prevalent in Wabasca,” the report said.

The Slave Lake Forest Area update stated the wildfire is 10 kilometres from Bigstone Cree Nation – 166B and 166D on the west side of Wabasca Lake.

This evacuation was called four years after the 2015 evacuation of Wabasca. At that time, more than 2,000 evacuees registered at reception centres in Calling Lake and Athabasca.

Chipewyan Lake Village evacuation

The Alberta Emergency Management Agency, on behalf of the Municipal District of Opportunity, sent an emergency alert at 3:40 a.m. May 30, calling for the evacuation of Chipewyan Lake Village, which is about 140 kilometres north of Wabasca.

“A new wildfire has entered the M.D. of Opportunity and is rapidly approaching the Chipewyan Lake Village and may cut off access to this area,” it reads.

The alert tells residents to evacuate immediately, heading south on Al-Pac Road to Highway 813 and then to Calling Lake, where they should register as evacuees.

“Caution should be used while traveling in the area due to heavy smoke,” it states.




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