Forest fires are still growing in Canada, including in Alberta and Pikangikum, causing concern for officials and residents in the region. Fires have grown so large that the smoke is causing air quality issues in certain regions, and even people in the United States are seeing smoke and haze from the wildfires. Read on to learn more about the High Level Fire (aka Chuckegg Creek), the Yukon fire, Pikangikum fire, evacuations, interactive maps, and more for May 31.
Interactive Fire Maps in Canada for May 31
Interactive maps you can help you get an overall view of the fires currently in Canada. This first one is a Fire Weather Map from CWFIS, which indicates fire danger levels and is updated each day. Blue is low danger and red is extreme danger, where fires would be difficult to control because of current conditions. The map is below but you can also view it here.
You can also see a map of Fire M3 Hotspots here. This indicates heat sources as shown by satellite imagery, indicating vegetation fires or parts of a larger fire. Another hotspot map is here. Here’s the image for today, May 31:
Next is an interactive fire map from CWFIS. You can use the arrows to pan the map and use the plus and minus icons to zoom in. Here’s a screenshot of the map below, but you’ll want to click on the interactive map link to zoom in. If you use the Overlay feature, you can turn off “Fire Danger” and turn on “Active Fires.” Large red circles indicate the largest fires. A direct link is here, and a screenshot is below.
Canada also provides an interactive map of fires in the Alberta area here, but sometimes the map doesn’t work quite right in the full version if there’s a lot of traffic. Here’s an embedded version of the map:
If the map is not working when you visit this story because of a high level of interest, here’s an official status map shared by Alberta Wildfire:
Chuckegg Creek Fire (High Level Fire)
The High Level Fire (known officially as the Chuckegg Creek Fire) continues to rage on and grow, despite efforts to contain it. The Chuckegg Creek Fire is now 237,000 hectares in size as of the evening of May 31, which is more than 560,000 acres. Approximately 10,000 people have been evacuated so far. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
The weather outlook could worsen the fire, Alberta.ca warned last night: “The weather today yielded cooler conditions, which helped reduce the intensity of recent fire behaviour. However, the weather outlook expects continued warm and dry conditions with limited levels of the substantial precipitation needed to significantly calm fire behaviour and aid firefighters in suppression efforts.”
Here’s a map of the fire, released on May 31, 2019 at 11 a.m.:
On May 31 at 11 a.m., Alberta.ca noted:
Firefighters, heavy equipment, and aircraft are focusing on establishing containment in priorities areas, including: north of Highway 58, from Highway 35 to the Peace River, the Paddle Prairie area, and to the east of the Peace River. Structural firefighters continue to assess and mobilize structural protection in critical areas of the fire, with focus in and around Paddle Prairie where active fire remains, as well as east of the Peace River and from Keg River to Carcajou to the south of the fire.
Firefighters continue to consolidate containment along Highway 35 to High Level. Heavy equipment is building fire guards to the north of High Level to limit further spread of the fire on the north side towards Hutch Lake. Thick smoke continues to prove a challenge to the safe ability of personnel and aircraft to operate south of Paddle Prairie. The weather outlook expects winds from the east today, with continued warm and dry conditions and limited levels of the substantial precipitation needed to significantly calm fire behaviour and aid firefighters in suppression efforts.
According to the Town of High Level’s Facebook page, the following road closures are in place:
- Highway 35 North of High Level is restricted to only essential personnel, along with the Zama access road. (As of May 31, the Highway from Hutch Lake to the NWT border was opened to all traffic.)
- Highway 35 South of High Level is closed in both directions south of High Level to Notikewin.
- Highway 58 west of High Level is restricted to emergency personnel only in both directions.
- Highway 58 east of High Level is open for eastbound traffic only.
- Township Road 1172A eastbound is restricted.
- La Crete Ferry is closed.
- Highway 697 is closed from Highway 35 to Range Road 164.
- Highway 88 is still open at this time.
This fire is located about 3 km southwest of the Town of High Level.
Here is a map of all the wildfires in the High Level Forest area, as shared by Alberta Wildfire. Below is a screenshot, but you can see the interactive map here. Red fires are active and out of control, green fires are active but under control.
Evacuations in Alberta as of May 31
According to Alberta’s emergency update and Albert.ca, mandatory evacuations are currently in place for the following areas. This was updated as of the morning of May 31. Stay tuned to your local news because evacuations can change rapidly.
- The Town of High Level (and areas south/southeast of the town) as of May 20
- Mackenzie County mandatory evacuations: La Crete Ferry campground, North and South of Highway 697 to Range Road 164 (Steep Hill Creek), the Mackenzie County rural residents south and southeast of the Town of High Level, the Town of High Level, and Steen River. Evacuees must register at 780-927-3718.
- Northern Lights County for residents in the Keg River and Carcajou areas. Register at the County of Northern Lights Main Office at #600-7th Ave. NW Manning. An evacuation FAQ is here. An evacuation map is here.
- All residents from the northern border of the County of Northern Lights to Township Road 922 (Notikewin Road). An evacuation FAQ is here. An evacuation map is here.
- Dene Tha’ First Nation communities of Bushe River, Meander River, and Chateh
- Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement
- Steen River mandatory evacuation was issued on May 30 by Mackenzie County due to Wildfire HWF066.
- Wabasca, the Bigstone Cree Nation, Sandy Lake, and Chipewyan Lake Village (in the MD of Opportunity.) Register at the Calling Lake Recreation Centre at 2870 Central Drive.
- Hamlet of Marten Beach (take Highway 88 south and register at the Slave Lake Legacy Centre)
A one-hour evacuation notice is in place for Peerless Trout Lake First Nation.
An eight-hour evacuation notice is in place for Old Smith Highway, Mitsue, Poplar Lane, Fawcett Lake, Eben Road and Bayer Road.
High Level evacuees are asked to register at one of the following evacuation centers: Slave Lake Legacy Centre, High Prairie Gordon Buchanan Centre, Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC), Peace River Misery Mountain Ski Resort, La Crete Heritage Centre, and Fort Vermilion Community Cultural Complex. If you can’t register, call 780-502-0778 and leave a voicemail.
Animal control is collecting pets that were left behind. Call 780-926-2201 for details about your pets if you have any that need to be picked up.
Any Alberta resident affected by the wildfire can apply for a one-time evacuation payment of $1,250 per adult and $500 per child under 18. Apply here.
Sadly, 14 homes in the Paddle Praire Metis Settlement area were destroyed and 80 more are at risk, Global News reported.
Battle Complex Fire
This fire is south of the Chuckegg Creek Fire in Alberta, near Manning in the Peace River region, Global News reported. As of the evening of May 30, it’s classified as out of control and is labeled PCX-001. It’s 52,322 hectares in size, located in the Manning/Notikewin area, Alberta.ca reported. Cooler temperatures may help reduce the fire’s size.
Another fire in the region is PWF 070 which is 251 hectares in size and holding, west of Keg River.
McMillan Complex Fire
This fire (which is actually a combination of fires) is affecting communities in the Slave Lake region.
The SWF-049 fire estimated to be 133,952 hectares in size and is out-of-control. It’s located 6.5 km west of Wabasca No. 166B and 166D, 23 km northeast of Marten Beach, and 36 km northeast of Slave Lake, as of the evening of May 30. It’s located along Highway 754.
The SWF-050 fire his holding at 1,457 hectares.
The SWF-069 fire is 45,845 hectares as of the evening of May 30 (it was formerly called the Maria Lake Wildfire.) It’s out of control, with the west flank about 13.8 km southeast of Trout Lake, according to Alberta.ca. It recently joined the McMillan Complex Fire.
Two fires are burning in the Yukon area. A fire near Toobally Lake burns about 140 km east of Watson Lake and is not a threat to the community. Then there is the Bear Creek Fire, being battled by 20 firefighters and four helicopters. A stronger perimeter was created between the fire and Haines Junction. Two properties immediately adjacent were issued an evacuation alert.
You can see an interactive map of the fires in the Yukon area here. Or view the map embedded below:
A ban has been issued on all open fires within the Fire Management Areas of Whitehorse, Teslin, Haines Junction, Ross River, and Watson Lake:
Pikangikum First Nation Fire (Red Lake 14 Fire)
A state of emergency was declared on May 29 in the Pikangikum First Nation because of fire and heavy smoke, TB News Watch shared. The Red Lake 14 fire is nearing the Northwestern Ontario First Nation community, just about two kilometers away, and now it’s 3,320 hectares in size, according to the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. Another fire burning near the Manitoba border is also causing issues with public health in the region. As many as 300 people to 1,000 or more may be evacuated from the Northwestern Ontario First Nations community.
Here’s a video of the fire from two days ago:
This is a serious situation. About 1,600 people need evacuating. Evacuations were slow on Thursday and the source of frustration for many.
Canadian forces deployed Hercules aircraft to help with the evacuation. At 3:45 p.m. on Thursday, the first aircraft had finally arrived to help with the evacuation.
But as of 7:10 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, only one plane had left. A second Hercules and two Chinook helicopters were on the way.
As of 8:30 a.m. on Friday, a north wind is helping with breathing issues and a third Hercules is on the way. They hope to evacuate 1,200 priority or vulnerable residents and as of Friday morning, about 300 had been evacuated so far.
This is the most recent update on the fire:
Jenn Wallace, a teacher in the area, said that 10 out of her 20 students have been evacuated so far.
Here is a map she shared of the area:
Trout Lake Fire
The Trout Lake fire sparked this weekend and leading to an evacuation notice for communities in northwestern Alberta, Global News shared. The fire is located 14 km southeast of Trout Lake, and near the Peerless Lake First Nation. It’s in the Slave Lake forest area about 300 km northeast of Grand Prairie, CBC reported.
As of 6 p.m. on Sunday, the fire was 300 hectares in size and smoke was making driving in the area hazardous. But as of Monday, the fire was holding firm at the same size. It’s unclear what the fire’s current status is.
Here’s the overall Alberta wildfire danger map:
Additional active fires in the Alberta region as of May 30 or May 31 include:
Calgary Forest Area: 0 active wildfires
Edson Area: EWF043 Fire is out of control as of May 30 at 11:30 a.m., but not fire growth was detected on May 30. It was detected May 29 and is 40 km southeast of Edson and 29 km west of Cynthia. It’s moving southwest and is 205 hectares in size. A map of the fire as of 9 p.m. May 29 is below.
Fort McMurray Area: Smoke is drifting into the area, but there are currently no fires in Fort McMurray.
Grand Prairie Area: The wildfire danger is high. No fire is listed on their page.
High Level Area: See the section above for the Chuckegg Creek Fire. In addition, Wildfire HWF066 (The Jackpot Creek Fire) is out of control near Steen River at 24,730 hectares, causing a mandatory evacuation for Steen River and road closures on Highway 35.
Lac La Biche Area: Extreme fire danger, with smoke drifting in from Slave Lake and High Level area fires. No current active wildfires in this area.
Peace River Area: There’s an extreme wildfire danger in the area and existing fire permits are suspended. There are no new fires as of May 30 at 10 p.m. in this area, but there have been 70 total fires in this area during the fire season so far. The current fires are:
- Battle Complex (Notikewin and Battle River wildfires). PWF 052 is out of control and 52,322 hectares in size. Growth is mainly on the south, on the northeast and southeast portions. See the section above about the fire for more details.
- PWF070 is being held at 251 hectares west of Keg River. A map is below.
- The Chuckegg Creek Fire spread to the Peace River area, particularly Paddle Prairie. See the section about the fire above for more details.
Rocky Mountain House Area: Wildfire danger is high. Existing fire permits remain valid. There have been 25 wildfires in the area since March 1 for a total of 12.81 hectares.
Slave Lake Area: Extreme fire danger in this area. Mandatory evacuations were issued as of 1 p.m. May 30 for Chipewyan Lakes, the Hamlet of Wabasca and Bigstone Cree Nation. As of 10 p.m. on May 30, the biggest fire danger was from what is now called the McMillan Wildfire Complex. See the section above for more details about these fires.
Whitecourt Forest Area: Fire danger is very high. Three wildfires are burning in the area. These are:
- WWF-028 – under control and 20.30 hectares in size.
- WWF-032 – out of control. This is 20 km northwest of Highway 32, 25 km northeast of Highway 43, and 11 km northeast of the Sakwatamau River. It’s 51.9 hectares in size.
- WWF-033 is under control and 3.6 hectares in size.
You can see the interactive map for Alberta here.
How to Stay Updated on Fires
You can stay updated specifically about High Level on their Facebook page.
To stay updated on Dene Tha’ First Nation, follow their Facebook page.
For updates on Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement, see their Facebook page.
You can also follow Alberta’s Emergency Alert website here.
For updates on Yukon fires, visit here.
Remember that situations and evacuations can change rapidly, so stay tuned to your local news for the latest updates.