Forest / Wild Fire in Canada, Alberta, Mackenzie
The fire has almost doubled in size since Sunday night. Those battling the blaze say Sunday's wind was actually keeping the fire at bay but as the breeze died down overnight it moved quickly toward High Level. Alberta Emergency Alert has issued a mandatory evacuation order for anyone in Mackenzie County or High Level-so far some 4,000 people from High Level alone have packed up and left their homes. There is also a local state of emergency in place for the county. "Lock doors and windows, take small personal belongings including pets, identification, medication, cash. Within your homes please ensure all fuel and gas appliances are shut off, and hot water tanks are turned down if able to," reads the alert from wildfire information officers. "The public should expect to be prepared to be away from home for at least 72 hours." For anyone unable to self-evacuate, officers say to collect your belongings and head to the Spirit of the North Community School for assistance. The town is providing transportation to help seniors and others in need of help get out of the area. High Level's mayor Crystal McAteer says people are afraid as the Fort McMurray wildfires are so fresh in their memories, but she's been reassuring everyone that High Level has been proactive in its fight against this fire. "I'm very optimistic with the resources that we have here and the good intelligence we're getting, and our fire chief has been excellent with his crew. people are of course afraid, but they're leaving willingly," she told media Monday afternoon. McAteer added that the sky over High Level is blue, but the horizon looks threatening. The mayor says this evacuation order is quite significant for the town with no mass evacuations being issued in her 42-year memory living in the town. Barricades are in place on all roads according to 511Alberta to prevent unauthorized entry into the evacuated areas. Those fleeing the area are asked to register at the reception centres set up at Slave Lake Legacy Centre or the High Prairie Sports Palace. As meteorologists monitor weather patterns in the area to help firefighters battle the inferno, Wildfire Alberta Incident Commander Scott Elliot says it might be some time before crews get the upper hand. "There's no relief in sight from these extreme burning conditions," said Elliot, who added the good news is that the forecast seems stable enough for them to predict where the fire will move next. "As it sits right now, we don't have any [major weather shifts] in the near, foreseeable future so as it sits right now the forecast we're getting is allowing us to make some good decisions." The next few days in High Level are expected to be warm and sunny with temperatures in the mid-twenties. There are crews spraying down local buildings as protection should the fire reach the town. The Agriculture Department is also taking similar precautions.