Wildfires in southern Alberta contained after village evacuated


Wildfires that forced approximately 275 residents to leave their village in southern Alberta on Sunday have now been contained.

This image, taken by Kyle Brittain of The Weather Network, shows smoke billowing in southern Alberta. A massive grass fire has forced the evacuation of the village of Carmangay. (Kyle Brittain/The Weather Network)

Wildfires that forced approximately 275 residents to leave their village in southern Alberta on Sunday have now been contained.

Jason Schneider, the reeve of Vulcan County, said the majority of the fire near Carmangay, Alta., had been contained.

“We’re pretty optimistic that crews will be able to get it under control [soon],” Schneider said. “Then, they’re going to start letting people back into Carmangay.”

Vulcan RCMP said there were injuries sustained as a result of the fire, including one individual who was transported to hospital in critical condition. No updates on that person’s condition were immediately available.

Two other people were treated for smoke inhalation, according to RCMP, and an unspecific number of others also suffered minor injuries.

More than 5,000 hectares were damaged as a result of the fire. RCMP also said they responded to three semi-truck rollovers and two other collisions as a result of the winds.

The emergency alert for the municipal district of Willow Creek was cancelled around 7 p.m. MT.

WATCH | Large clouds of smoke visible across the horizon due to wildfires:

A video posted by the town of Claresholm shows large clouds of smoke across the horizon as wildfires burned out of control in southern Alberta on Sunday. 1:13 

“Fire crews have held the fires and are working on hot spots and flare ups,” a tweet posted by the Alberta provincial government said.

“Visibility still may be affected. Seek medical attention if you experience breathing difficulty.”

Carmangay is located approximately 165 kilometres southeast of Calgary.

Vulcan RCMP said they were assisting in the evacuation of the village. The grass fire initially spanned about 11 to 16 kilometres and was considered out of control earlier in the afternoon.

In a tweet, the Willow Creek Fire Department said the wildfire that started in the Claresholm area had been contained, adding that assessment was ongoing for when residents would be allowed to return home.

Winds gusting 93km/hr and clearly fire SW of Lethbridge. #ABStorm #YQL pic.twitter.com/xqu7Qsh2Mr


Earlier, the Alberta Emergency Alert system indicated that the fire was moving northeast of Claresholm “very quickly,” and was being pushed by extreme winds.

WATCH | Intense grass fire east of Claresholm:

An intense grass fire east of Claresholm, Alta., forced residents of Carmangay to leave their village. Scenes from the fire are captured in this video from Kyle Brittain of The Weather Network. 1:01 

Lethbridge resident Chris Cutforth said he was outside doing chores when he noticed dark and heavy smoke gathering in the skies.

“It covers a huge area, for sure,” Cutforth said. “It spans farther than I can see to the east. It’s thick, heavy and low.”

Hwy 2 south of #Claresholm is now open. Hwy 520 east of #Claresholm remains closed. @willowcreek26 @local_press #abroads @CTVLethbridge @511Alberta @660NEWSTraffic @770CHQR @CBCCalgary @GlobalLeth @GlobalCalgary pic.twitter.com/mZixwMBZ5E


In a Facebook post, the nearby village of Champion said its hall had been opened for anyone who had been ordered to leave Carmangary and needed shelter. It added that masks, water and food will be provided.

Smoke from the grass fire billowed in the air east of Claresholm, Alta., on Sunday afternoon. (Kyle Brittain/The Weather Network)

A prior post from the Alberta Emergency Alert system said the two wildfires were located east of Highway 2, between the towns of Stavely and Fort Macleod.

Officials with the Blood Tribe First Nation said residents of the Fort Whoop Up area on the east end of the First Nation were forced to leave due to the fires, impacting a total of 24 households.

A temporary emergency shelter was set up at the multi-purpose building in Standoff.

All highways in the area have now reopened.

Intense grassfire continues east of Claresholm #abfire @weathernetwork pic.twitter.com/rPshxngpfA


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