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High Level fire still out of control as more firefighters arrive

Last Updated May 24, 2019 at 12:58 pm MDT


Over 5,000 people were evacuated from High Level, Mackenzie County and nearby First Nations

Mayor Crystal McAteer says evacuees should prepare to be out indefinitely

HIGH LEVEL – Fire crews from Ontario, Nova Scotia and B.C. have arrived in High Level to help fight the massive wildfire that threatens the town.

The help is a welcome sight as the Chuckegg Creek blaze continues to grow and the weather forecast is offering no relief in sight.

“They’re going to be happy to have some extra hands on the ground,” said Nova Scotia firefighter Dave Rockwood. “You get beat out pretty quick and they’ve been at it for a while.”

The wildfire danger in the area is considered extreme because of warmer temperatures, gusty winds and no significant rainfall in the forecast.

The fire has now grown to 99,250 square kilometres in size but remains about 3 kilometres from the town borders.

Rockwood, who arrived on Thursday for a two-week long stay, said fighting wildfires is a dangerous task.

“You treat every fire the same, no matter if it’s a small fire or big fire, we have each others back. ”

Firefighters have completed a controlled burn to create a containment boundary along highway 35, highway 58 and the perimeter of the fire.

As for the nearly 5,000 people who were ordered out of their homes Monday, the evacuees are being told to plan to stay away indefinitely.

McAteer says people are afraid as the Fort McMurray wildfires are so fresh in their memories, but she’s been reassuring everyone that High Level has been proactive in its fight against this fire.

“They’re worried about their homes and everything in High Level. We have great crews here from all over the province and across Canada who are working diligently to make sure the fire doesn’t enter our community.”

“I’m very optimistic with the resources that we have here and the good intelligence we’re getting, and our fire chief has been excellent with his crew. people are of course afraid, but they’re leaving willingly,” she told media Monday afternoon.