Monday, 6 Jul 2020

Highway 16 reopens, residents return home as wildfire burns west of Edson

Highway 16 west of Edson, Alta. reopened early Monday morning and residents who were forced from their homes Sunday have been allowed to return as a wildfire continues to burn west of the town.

The wildfire is located about 22 kilometres west of Edson, south of Marlboro, Alta. and Highway 16.

A firefighter on scene Monday morning said it was still an active fire, with light smoke in the area. A helicopter was being used just south of Highway 16, west of Marlboro to help douse the blaze from the air.


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Fire officials said they were called to the area shortly before 4:30 p.m. Sunday. As of 4:45 p.m. Sunday, the wildfire was listed as out of control, having burned about 87 hectares.

“It was a fast moving fire when we arrived and agriculture and forestry will be doing that investigation to determine where it started and what actually started it,” said Albert Bahri, Yellowhead County director for fire and protection services, late Sunday night.

At around 6:30 p.m., police said the wildfire jumped Highway 16 and was burning on both sides of the road. Heavy smoke led to the closure of Highway 16 between Obed and Highway 47.

Rural residences on the north and south side of Highway 16 near Marlboro were evacuated Sunday, along with a nearby recreational area.

About 10 people checked into Edson hotels, while others stayed with family and friends, according to RCMP.

“The impact of this on a long weekend, when you shut down Highway 16, you’re shutting down an artery that leads from Alberta to B.C.,” Bahri said.

“We have no choice, when the fire crossed the highway there was no visibility and spot fires created in the centre median … it impacts a lot of people.

“Not only did we shut down the highway, we shut down the CN Rail line. So there were no trains moving east or west through this area for approximately five to six hours.”

In an update shortly after 9 a.m. Monday, Yellowhead County officials said the evacuation order was lifted at 9 a.m. Residents were allowed to return home but officials warned people to stay on notice, as they may need to leave again on short notice if the wildfire situation changes.

Checkpoints will remain in place as only residents are allowed in the affected areas, Yellowhead County said. Livestock that have been removed from the area should not be returned to the evacuation zones.

A reception centre has been set up at the Best Western Hotel in Edson, located at 300 – 52 St.

Marlboro, Alta. located west of Edmonton. Residents were allowed to return home Monday, May 20, 2019 after being evacuated a day earlier due to a nearby wildfire.

Edson is located about 200 kilometres west of Edmonton.

As of Sunday at 10 a.m., Alberta Wildfire reported five out of control wildfires burning in the province.

Several fire bans, restrictions and advisories were also in place as of Monday morning.

Since March 1, Alberta Wildfire officials said there have been 409 wildfires in Alberta, about 70 per cent of which were human caused. The cause of this wildfire is still under investigation.

Keep up to date on Alberta highway closures through 511 Alberta. For updated information on evacuations and wildfire threat, stay tuned to Alberta Emergency Alert.

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