Crews continue to battle wildfires west of Edmonton, but Highway 16 has re-opened and hundreds of residents who were under evacuation orders are now allowed to return to their homes.
Officials lifted an evacuation order for Evansburg, Entwistle and areas of Parkland County located west of Highway 22.
An evacuation order remains in place for Wildwood.
“We don’t want to allow people back in until we know that we have a good handle on that fire and it is not going to reach the community,” Yellowhead County Mayor Wade Williams said Tuesday.
Evacuations began Saturday as a pair of wildfires grew rapidly amid unseasonably warm temperatures.
Both wildfires continue to burn out of control. One covers around 2,400 hectares, seven kilometers northwest of Evansburg. The second, seven kilometers southeast of Entwistle, has burned 330 hectares.
Parkland County and neighboring Yellowhead County have declared states of local emergency.
Tuesday ushered in another day of unfavorable conditions with high temperatures and low humidity.
“Those are really good conditions for the fire to gain ground on us,” said Brian Cornforth, Parkland County fire chief.
“These are some of the most extreme conditions I’ve seen in my 39-year career for wildfires and I think this is just something we’re going to have to start facing more on a regular basis given the conditions.”
Dale Cartwright, 90, was looking forward to returning to the Legion seniors’ lodge in Evansburg after two nights away.
He was evacuated to Wildwood Sunday and then forced to leave again Monday when the evacuation order for Wildwood was issued.
“I really don’t like traveling around and running back and forth on these buses, which has been a necessity, I realize that,” Cartwright said.
Wildfires in the area of Paul First Nation near Wabamun have forced residents to evacuate the community where fire crews remain on site to protect structures.
Edmonton Fire Rescue Services issued a fire ban in Edmonton on Tuesday that prohibits open burning, backyard fire pits, fireworks, cooking stoves and barbecues that use fuels such as wood.
As of April 30, Edmonton has seen 185 brushes, grass, or wildland fires of varying sizes this year. Six have posed threats to nearby structures, the city said in a news release.
“The wind can really accelerate the spread of a fire, and obviously with the dry conditions that we’re experiencing right now you bring those two factors together and then you can see the consequence of those things coming together,” acting fire chief David Lazenby said at a briefing Tuesday.
“Not the best of bedfellows, and you can see the scale of what results.”
With dry and warm weather in the forecast, Lazenby said the tires are expected to remain in place for the rest of the week.