Fire danger very high, but light breeze moving away from Slave Lake
This article was updated on May 12 at 3:30 p.m. The Leader / News / Express will continue to monitor the situation, if things change updates will happen throughout the weekend. Otherwise, this article will be updated on Monday, May 15 around 9:30 a.m.
In the meantime, the most up to day wildfire information is on the Alberta Wildfire Status Dashboard. The Town of Slave Lake will be doing wildfire updates at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. through its Voyent Alert system, its Facebook page, and the older email alert system. People can register for Voyent Alert by clicking here. People can received emails, texts, or download an app. The M.D. of Lesser Slave River has Wildfire Status updates on its website, to go to these click here. Road closures are available at 511 Alberta. A list of active wildfire evacuations and alerts are here. Once a day when the wildfire danger is high, very high, or extreme, Alberta Wildfire publishes Slave Lake Forest Area updates at https://srd.web.alberta.ca/slave-lake-area-update.
On May 12, Whitefish Lake First Nation evacuees from Atikameg and Whitefish Riverthey were allowed to return home. They had been in Slave Lake since May 5. Whitefish Lake First Nation is under a under one-hour evacuation alert.
On May 12, the wildfire danger for Slave Lake Forest Area is very high. The temperatures are expected to be 23 to 25 degrees, says a Slave Lake Wildfire Update. With a light breeze (10 to 15 km per hour), from the southeast.
If the wildfires move, they would move toward the northwest, which is where the fireguards and other fire suppression efforts are.
The update also says there is a low risk of lightning in the afternoon.
On Saturday (May 13), the weather is expected to be 25 degrees, but windy with gusts of up to 40 km per hour. This is also expected to be from the south/southeast, which would move any wildfires north or northwest.
There has been lightning recently, so people should expect new fires and hold-over fires in the coming days, says the update. The whole fire system from the watch towers to the firefighters, ground crews, and others are on high alert.
There is a wildfire and OHV ban in effect, both in the forest area and the Town of Slave Lake. Also, it is illegal to fly drones over the wildfire.
The closest wildfire to Slave Lake is SWF057, which is over 30 km southwest of town which is the opposite direction of the current wind.
Wildfires of note:
As of May 12, Slave Lake Forest Area had six out of control wildfires and two under control.
Grizzly Complex–SWF063, SWF064, and SWF057
The wildfires did not experience any significant growth and fire intensity was reduced due to some isolated showers that passed over SWF057 and SWF063 yesterday afternoon. A 20 person Incident Management Team and 40 firefighters arrived from Ontario and are being deployed on the wildfires today.
SWF-057 is located over 30 kilometers southwest of the Town of Slave Lake, is classified as out of control and has burned an estimated 8,337 hectares. Firefighters and helicopter bucket support focused on putting up a guard on the south west portion of the fire (90% complete in this area), and will finish today. Heavy equipment continues to build fire guard along the west to south side of the wildfire and firefighters continue to secure the guard by extinguishing the wildfire’s perimeter while helicopters are bucketing on flare ups. This guard is approximately 90% complete in this area and expected to be completed today. Firefighters have placed over 3000 feet of hose along this section. There has been approx. 2km of fire retardant line placed along the ridge on the South East side (by Hwy 33). There are ten firefighters and two heavy equipment groups working on this wildfire. There are 13 helicopters assigned to the Grizzly complex as well.
SWF-063 is located approximately seven kilometers south of High Prairie is classified as burning out of control and has burned an estimated 69,074 hectares. Firefighters and helicopters worked in the northeast portion of the wildfire to extinguish a slash pile fire in the Banana Belt area. Firefighters with nodwells and helicopters are working on flare ups and hot spots around the community of East Prairie Metis Settlement. Heavy equipment continues to build fire guard around the east side of the wildfire and helicopters continue to hit hotspots with buckets. There are 30 firefighters and four heavy equipment groups working on this wildfire.There are 13 helicopters assigned to the Grizzly complex as well.
SWF-064 is located over 40 kilometers northwest of Swan Hills, is classified as out of control and has burned approximately 22,398 hectares. A heavy equipment group continues to build fire guard around the north west portion of the wildfire.
SW060 located 2.3 kilometres east of the border of the Whitefish Lake First Nation is classified as burning out of control and has burned approximately 16,680 hectares.The southwest end of the wildfire closest to the Whitefish Lake First Nation Community border did not experience any increase in fire activity and firefighters have sprinkler lines set up along the community FireSmart fire guard located north of the community. Helicopter continues to bucket on hotspots on the entire wildfire and firefighters are working to extinguish the edge of the wildfire on the south end.
SWF059 located over 24 kilometres northeast of the White Fish Lake First Nation border is classified as burning out of control and has burned approximately 1,036 hectares. Heavy equipment will begin to build fire guard around the wildfire today.
There are 64 firefighters, three heavy equipment groups and 10 helicopters working on the Nipisi Complex.
Wildfire operations for SWF068 located approximately nine kilometres northwest of Peavine Metis Settlement has been transferred over to the Peace River Forest Area.
The May 12 Peace River Forest Area update says, SWF068 is a provincial Wildfire of Note and is currently classified as Out of Control (OC). Peace River Forest Area has over control of this fire. It is estimated to be approximately 38,716 ha in size. Three helicopters, an equipment group and a unit crew are working to build a fireguard form the head of the fire down the north and south flanks. They are assisted by heavy equipment and firefighters form Peavine Metis Settlement.
Volunteer to help evacuees:
As the wildfire season progresses, Slave Lake may host evacuees again. The Town of Slave Lake asks that anyone who is looking to volunteer to help with evacuees to send an email to email@example.com and a Volunteer Coordinator will contact you or sign up here.
Fire ban and OHV restriction
As of May 5 and ongoing, both Slave Lake Forest Area and the Town of Slave Lake have a fire ban, including an OHV restriction. Under this fire ban:
All existing Fire Permits are suspended (or cancelled)
No new Fire Permits will be issued
- All outdoor wood fires are banned, including wood campfires on public lands, wood campfires on private land and provincial campgrounds
- Backyard firepits
- BBQ charcoal briquettes
- The use of fireworks and exploding targets
- The recreational use of off-highway vehicles (OHV) on public lands, including designated OHV trails
- Propane/natural gas-powered appliances
- Open flame oil devices (e.g., turkey deep fryers, tiki torches)
- Indoor wood fires contained within a device with a chimney and spark arrestor
- All appliances must be CSA approved and used per manufacturer’s standards
- Indigenous people when using an OHV for traditional purposes. Traditional purposes are hunting, fishing, and trapping – including the use of an OHV to travel to the location(s) for these purposes.
- Essential industry-related activities requiring the use of OHVs.
- Off-highway vehicle use is still permitted on private lands.
by Pearl Lorentzen
May 12, 2023
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