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Strathcona County declares state of emergency as wildfires spread

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05/06/2009 12:56 AM
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Strathcona County declares state of emergency as wildfires spread
[link to www.cbc.ca]

Officials in Strathcona County, east of Edmonton, declared a local state of emergency Tuesday and put an evacuation order in effect for all homes north of Township Road 560, as wildfires continued to spread.

“The fire in north Strathcona County is expanding,” Strathcona Fire Chief Darrell Reid said in a release. “Declaring a State of Local Emergency provides authorities the ability to ensure all residents, and anyone entering the area, are evacuated immediately. Prior to declaring the State of Local Emergency, evacuation was voluntary.”

Alberta Sustainable Resource Development has sent another 80 firefighters plus command support to help out.

The fire is estimated to be about 1,200 hectares in size. It has now crossed the river into Sturgeon County, and local authorities have been notified, the release said.

On Monday, Lamont County declared a local state of emergency due to its wildfire.

That fire was contained Monday night, but by mid-Tuesday, county officials announced it was no longer contained and was growing again.

Winds picked up and shifted, sending the fire back west and across Range Road 205, said Wayne Woldanski, reeve of Lamont County, in a midday news release.

"Firefighters have been brought in from throughout the region, and the government of Alberta's Sustainable Resource Development Ministry will be deploying man power and equipment into the areas of Lamont and Strathcona County," Woldanski said.

No homes have been lost, and no one has been injured. The recreation centre in the town of Lamont is open for anyone in need.

However, the five families northeast of Bruderheim who were told to leave their homes on Monday were allowed to return as they are not under any immediate threat.

In Strathcona County, where officials are calling the fires the most severe they've ever seen, 16 families were ordered from their homes on Monday.

On Tuesday morning, the deputy fire chief of Strathcona County, Ken Jones, said the east fire had flared up significantly, while a second fire in the west has held.

The fire was on a run toward Secondary Highway 830, Jones said.

The fires first flared up on the weekend and were spread by high winds and dry conditions.

On Monday, Woldanski said the county declared a state of emergency in order to get more help in fighting the rapidly growing fire.

"We did it as a precautionary measure in case the winds continued throughout the night," he said.

Alberta Sustainable Resources sent two water bombers and several helicopters. Bulldozers from private contractors supplemented two the county was using to build fire guards in the area, Woldanski said.

In Strathcona County, one of two fires flared up around noon Monday which took the blaze toward Highway 830, prompting RCMP to close the highway between the Vinca Bridge and Highway 15.

Officials initially evacuated the area bordered by Highway 830 and Range Road 211 and township roads 564 and 562.