A few days of cooler, wetter weather has not been enough to extinguish the dozens of active wildfires burning hundreds of square kilometres across Alberta, and hot weather in the forecast has prompted some residents of Grande Prairie to prepare to evacuate as a wildfire burns outside the city.
“If a person looks out, the kids and I are playing in the yard here and everything just seems normal, but we are fully aware that there is still a wildfire,” said Brandon Wilson, who lives just two kilometres outside of the area currently under evacuation order.
The most up to date evacuation information can be found on the Alberta Emergency Alerts website.
READ MORE: The Alberta wildfire situation today and where to find evacuation orders
Wilson said when evacuations first started last week, there were long lines at gas stations in the city.
He said he has put together essentials, especially for his kids, in case the family needs to leave the area.
“We have a couple options and if we had to move quickly we could,” he said, adding his family could stay in a camping trailer if needed.
It’s a case of hoping for the best but preparing for the worst, he said. “I think there’s a lot of potential for this fire to get carried away still.”
Canadian military helping with Alberta wildfires
The upcoming hot weather, with highs in the high 20s and low 30s, is expected to fan the flames over the next few days, said Trevor Grant, the fire chief of County of Grande Prairie Fire Services.
“There are still lots of smolders and areas that are unseen within the fire perimeter that may rekindle or flare up with the hot, dry conditions that could extend and cause us some more issues,” Grant said.
Grant said he didn’t want to speculate on what could happen over the weekend.
“It all depends on what we can accomplish through the next few days and what the weather does,” he said.
Alberta wildfires: Satellite captures footage of fires ravaging the province
Bob Marshall, the reeve of the County of Grande Prairie, said the fire has moved through affected areas of the landscape in a way that has left behind fuel, meaning fires could easily flare back up and burn remaining vegetation.
“I know our crews are working diligently making fire guards trying to keep the perimeter as contained as possible so that if it does flare up on the weekend, if it does hit those hot spots, they have a chance of keeping it within the zone,” he said.
Four homes have been destroyed by fire, but crews have saved many houses, Marshall added.
“We don’t want to lose any more,” he said.
“Our fire crews are very, very competitive and they don’t want to lose to this at all.”
Marshall said there are about 1,000 people who have been forced from their homes in the county.
“It’s a traumatic event for all of them,” he said.
He said he has felt raw emotion, anger and fear from residents.
‘You’re looking at months’: Alberta Widfire warns rain not enough to make signifant gains on fires
“I wish I could give them all a big hug and tell them it’s all going to be okay,” he said.
Jacklyn Zeman, longtime ‘General Hospital’ actor, dies at 70
Hilton manager arrested after breaking into guest’s room to suck his toes: police
“It’s all going to be changed. From what I saw from the air, the landscape has changed.
“Even if their home is still there, and hopefully it will be, it’s not going to be the same place.”
Jordan Reid lives in Grande Prairie and lost her home to an unrelated fire near the end of April.
She said she empathizes with people who are facing the similar situations.
“It’s definitely life-changing, it’s horrible,” she said.
“That’s why when fire bans are in effect, stick to them.”
She’s now living in a holiday trailer with her fiance, two kids and two dogs as she waits to be allowed back to her property.
“I’m really concerned, (the fires) aren’t even under control yet.”
The closest wildfire threatening Grande Prairie, named the Dunes West wildfire, is about 1,500 hectares in size and did not grow on Thursday, according to Alberta Wildfire.
The agency said there are other major fires burning nearby, burning a total of 13,300 hectares.
About 100 members of the Canadian Armed Forces were deployed to Grande Prairie on Thursday, according to the federal government. Another 200 were deployed to other areas in the province.
The members will help with basic firefighting, evacuations and engineering support, government officials said.
CAF members have been deployed to the province for two weeks initially, with the possibility of a one-week extension, if needed.
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.