County of Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray wildfire evacuation orders remain in effect

The out-of-control wildfire burning near the northwestern Alberta hamlet of Teepee Creek moved slightly closer to the community overnight, but officials say is it being contained.

Officials say the wildfire remained at 1,382 hectares in size by Sunday morning. It was four kilometres from Teepee Creek by Saturday evening.

“There was limited fire growth yesterday to the north and west of the fire,” the County of Grande Prairie wrote in its Sunday 10 a.m. update. “Containment is good, additional resources and heavy equipment are on scene from Alberta Wildfire.

“High winds are forecasted later today. Depending on conditions, air tankers will be mobilized this morning to support fire fighting efforts.”

The county says no structures were damaged, and structural protection was being provided for the three homes and two cabins in the area. Work to complete a fire guard on the north side of the blaze — now 80 per cent complete — continued through the night.

An evacuation order remained in effect Sunday morning for parts of the county most at risk: Kleskun Creek North to Township Road 742; and the Riverstone Golf Course. An evacuation order was also in effect for residents in the North Goodwin area in the Municipal District of Greenview.

Evacuees have been told to register at the Pomeroy Hotel and Conference Centre in the city of Grande Prairie.

“RCMP want to remind homeowners that entry is not permitted while the evacuation order is in place,” Grande Prairie RCMP said. “Please follow the directions of officers as it is extremely important for your safety, as well as the safety of all first responders.”

Some residents of the county were placed on alert for possible evacuation.

A special air quality statement was in effect for Grande Prairie – near Sexsmith and La Glace – due very poor air quality and reduced visibility. That smoke is not from the Teepee Creek blaze, but rather from the Fort Nelson, B.C., wildfire. Conditions were expected to improve by Monday night.

Smoke billows from the Teepee Creek wildfire in May 2024. (Submitted by: Josh Bourget)

The Teepee Creek wildfire was not the only out-of-control blaze burning in Alberta.

A wildfire 5,500 hectares in size continued to burn 16 km southwest of Fort McMurray. Alberta Wildfire says five crews of wildland firefighters, nine helicopters and airtankers worked on the southeast perimeter Saturday. Heavy equipment also worked to build guards on the east side of the wildfire.

An evacuation alert — rated “critical” — remains in place for Fort McMurray, as well as the nearby community of Saprae Creek.

The alert was initially issued Friday and was expanded Saturday evening to include the Gregoire Lake Estates neighbourhood south of Fort McMurray; Fort McMurray First Nation #468; Anzac; and Rickards Landing Industrial Park.

In a social media post, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Mayor Sandy Bowman acknowledged residents can be stressed, but he says past experience also means the community is prepared to handle the situation — a reference to the 2016 wildfire that tore through the area and destroyed 2,400 homes.

–With files from The Canadian Press

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