Fire Fighting in Canada

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Brush fire forces staff, students from Alberta school

April 19, 2016, Maskwacis, Alta. - Dry conditions and high winds resulted in grass and brush fires causing problems from central to northern Alberta on Monday.

April 19, 2016
By The Canadian Press

Near Atmore, Alta., the main highway leading to Fort McMurray had to be shut down shortly after 7 p.m. because of what RCMP described as a wildland fire.

They said the fire was straddling Highway 63, making it impassable.

“Wildland fire fighter crews and air support are on scene battling the fire presently,” Mounties said in a news release. “The fire has already jumped a service road along the highway and billowing smoke has reduced visibility in the area.”

There were no reports of people or buildings being in danger.

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Earlier in the day, flames and smoke from a brush fire forced students and staff from a school in the central Alberta community of Maskwacis. Some people were also asked to leave nearby homes as a precaution because of the fire, which was fanned by strong winds.

However, police said the flames were under control and no one was hurt on the Louis Bull First Nation.

About 50 residents in and around Duffield, Alta., who had been evacuated as a precaution because of a brush fire on Sunday, then allowed to return home in the evening, were told to get out again on Monday afternoon.

Justin Janke, public information officer at the emergency centre in Parkland County, said this time they would be out at least overnight.

“We do have fires north and east of the hamlet of Duffield and southeast of Tomahawk, and we’re urging residents just to make sure that if they’re evacuated to keep 72 hours worth of supplies,” he said Monday night.

“But at this time, as far as we know, it is under control.”

There were no reports of property damage but Janke said the municipality’s mayor, Rod Shaigec, had declared a state of emergency in order to better facilitate the evacuation.

Residents of Clear Lake were also given notice to be prepared for a possible evacuation.

Extremely dry conditions have prompted municipalities and the province to issue 42 fire bans, 12 fire restrictions and 34 fire advisories.

There have been 127 wildfires in Alberta’s forest protection area so far this year compared with 101 at this time in 2015.