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7:30pm – Apologies for the slow and wonky loads. Too much video for one page, perhaps.
Please allow more time than you think should be necessary for the videos to load.
No troubleshoot solution available, at this time (May 20 am)
In the meantime, video sets will go to Facebook one set at a time, over time.
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Message from the Mayor
1:30 pm – The Town is Intact.
Yesterday crews saw the fire cross Highway 43 between the Pines Campground and the rest stop; Fox Creek Fire Department worked supporting that operation.
The wind held the fire in all other locations around the community yesterday. We are expecting winds from the NW today which will continue to push the fire from the Trout Pond Road towards the community.
A very large cat guard paired with a sprinkler line has been constructed from the Archery Range to Highway 43 to protect against the expected approach of the fire.
Current weather conditions continue to make it unsafe for the community to return.
As always, please reach out to the supports available at:
St. Joseph Parish Hall
5538 Mink Creek Road, Whitecourt
10:15 am – We know you are anxious for updates, so are we.
The feelings of helplessness can be overwhelming at times.
Here’s a way you can assist in a most powerful, respectful, and empowering way.
We invite you to send messages to out first responders, your family members on the front lines, and visiting expertise.
We will post them on the digital billboard.
Put your message in the (Facebook) comments section. Limit it to 20 words or less, please. (you know how much room we have and that it is important to keep messages fairly short and succinct). We can even try to include photos, if you’d like. Messages may not necessarily post exactly as you request but we’ll make every effort for continuity.
ps, mention FROM if you want your name included.
update: Facebook settings are preventing adding photos in comments. – Need some time to resolve that – alternatively, and in the meantime, send message photos by direct message.
update: Messages being processed, or uploaded will receive an emoji. Those without just need more time. (The emojis will also help me to keep track.)
8:20am- The Town is Intact.
The fire remains at containment lines near the Trout Pond Road on NW side of town and it is at 4km on the North Road.
It has moved closer to town from all directions.
Although the fire travelled through, our early assessment is that Iosegun Campground is holding its ground.
As of yesterday afternoon we did lose a bridge and the horizon line, we’d all recognize anywhere, has changed.
Crews continue to work on knocking the fire down and holding the fireline to minimize spread.
Evacuation Reception Centre changes location today. You’ll find the same support and familiar faces there.
St Joesph’s Parish Hall
5538 Mink Creek Road
The phone and email support resources are still available:
Addition: 11:20am For those not familiar with Fox Creek landmarks mentioned in this morning’s update. Click to enlarge the image.
9:30pm-The RCMP went door to door for a final evacuation check, tonight.
2:30pm -Motorists, smoke conditions on Highway 43 are variable.
For added visibility when travelling day or night, please ensure your headlights are on.
In thick heavy smoke areas, use of your 4-ways / hazard lights is also appropriate.
1:00pm –We are expecting north winds today that will continue to push the fire towards the community, exact distances and fire locations are difficult to monitor because of the smoke in the area, crews on the ground and in the air will be monitoring them as best as possible, the fire still poses a threat to the community.
Fire operations will proceed as they did yesterday, with fire fighters working to extinguish hot-spots using crews on the ground and support from the air.
The Fire has crossed diagonally through the Iosegun Lake Campground and crews are working on constructing a road to gain access to the location to continue to knock down the fire. The damage done to the campground has not been assessed.
The fire is up against our first control lines (dozer guards) that are currently holding.
The crews are out at the lines working hard to knock it down to hold it where it is, Horizon North Camp is still intact.
We continue to receive support from the Province via military and additional crews to help us do so.
Evacuees are encouraged to reach out to our support line at 780-202-4938 or email email@example.com. Continued support will be offered through both channels.
The fire has moved closer to town and continues to pose a threat to the community.
Crews are continuing to work hard to protect our town.
12:12 –The Town is Intact.
Crews will continue to work around town to prepare should the fire move in.
6:25pm -The town is intact.
Helicopters, collecting fire retardant and water mixture.
A convoy of helicopters over Oasis Park today. One right after another, stationary, waiting their pick-up turn.
These bucket mixtures are being dumped on the town’s perimeter.
Heavy smoke has engulfed the town.
11:43 am– Following local and provincial news is a good way to stay informed.
Often the reporters are able to capture and report issues and challenges common to every community, including ours.
edit: 1:25pm: An excellent point, made in the comments about confusion between Fox Creek and Fox Lake is significant to note.
We catch and correct when we can – community members can help us out with that one by correctly informing the press, when you notice the misnaming, if you are able.
8:15am– The Town is intact.
As experienced yesterday, fire movement, calming hot-spots, extinguishing flareups and limiting spread will be the primary, if not only focus.
This is a different phase of the fire. It calls for active firefighting and moving from excursion to excursion.
The smoke obstructs what is seen from the air. And in some cases, if I remember correctly, even restricts where the helicopters can fly.
It is not always possible to get details, or photos, or measurements on a day by day, condition change to condition change, basis.
Decisions are made based on known fire behaviour, observed conditions at the front-line, wind velocity and direction, humidity, and temperature, maybe more that I’m missing. Edit: reminder, the character of this fire moves and also heats up underground – it can be there long before flames erupt.
In this active, aggressive, smoky, hot, sustained fire environment we get less detail and more general reports. For example, “you need to start thinking about moving your EOC.”
8:55am – edit: In addition, as you’ve probably seen on the news, the character of these fires and their location (wetlands, bogs, peat) means tense conditions and risk of flare-ups could last all summer.
The strategy for today is more active firefighting, holding that fire line, staying healthy, hydrated, focused, attentive, calm and positive. That’s a lot. It’s HUGE in fact, for all of us.
8:05pm: The fire has grown to about 33,000 hectares today.
The local Emergency Operations Centre, meaning Fox Creek staff who stayed behind, may have to leave and set up operations elsewhere, soon.
Wind conditions are not favourable for Monday evening and Tuesday.
Crews are working on Little Smoky, things continue to move in that neck of the woods.
Crews are also working on a plan to spray fire retardant around the community for an extra layer of protection.
Stay Safe. Stay where you are – unless in an evacuation zone you shouldn’t be.
. 11:57am- Provincial conditions summary and brief description of other communities, including ours.
7:47 am- There’s no fire update for you this morning.
But can reiterate:
Conditions are serious.
No one is permitted to return to town for any reason.
An additional direct phone line to local staff, at the Millar centre, has been arranged. 780-202-4938;
or email the emergency control centre (Fox Creek): firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastly, you will not be returning home in the foreseeable future.
Stay Safe. Stay where you are.
9:50pm: For all the reasons, hopefully you know by now, there will be NO ONE ALLOWED back into town, for any reason until such time as the danger has passed.
8:00pm:To help ease the extra call demands on the Allan & Millar Centre a new, direct-line phone number has been arranged for Fox Creek evacuees needing assistance or support from the Community Resource Centre staff.
Staff will be available 9-12pm and 5-7pm.
Text. Call or email: email@example.com
7:51pm: Due to continued, sustained aggressive fire behaviour today, coupled with unfavourable weather forecasts, and the character of this fire, you will not be returning home in the foreseeable future.
Crews are still out. We have not yet received a detailed update regarding today’s fire growth, nor can I estimate when that might happen.
It was a high pressure demanding day.
12:56: The giant has awakened. Firefighters are focused on combating active fires.
This fire’s behaviour is as expected but, that is no consolation.
Stay Safe. Stay where you are.
Edit: 1:30pm – northish, from the firehall. Photo added.
9:30 am: The Emergency Response Team, firefighters, police, representatives from various agencies. (This is not everyone.)
7:35am: Blue sky and a collection of fluffy cumulus clouds most of the day. Under normal circumstances, it would be an enviable day.
There were seven flare-ups, or what we’ve have learned are called excursions, that engulfed an additional 2300 hectares.
Even though significantly less than was possible, it is still considered “aggressive growth.”
Two excursions at the NW head of the fire, a grass fire at Giroux lake, two on the north long side, and two on the south side made for a long exhausting day.
This fire is still out of control and growing. It does not respect schedules or routine. Updates will absolutely continue, when humanly possible.
Weather is not the only factor determining how or where this giant goes. Fire invading areas rich in black spruce tend to ignite quicker and spread faster. Mixed forest tend to ignite and spread less quickly. Tamarack has some kind of fire retardant and slow burning characteristic that no one can explain. More Tamarack. Please.
Those of you with wood-stoves or who build campfires, will understand these principles, the burning characteristics of the different woods and kindling AND the type of smoke that results. It is the same in the forest.
More of the same fire behaviour is expected today and over the weekend.
Crews will tackle new flare-ups, and when possible, continue to build strategic containment guards.
Hopefully, the forecast for cloudy skies and cooler temperatures overnight tucked the sleeping giant in comfortably for night. We’ll know more about that later today.
More reinforcements are on the way, and additional air support (shared with other nearby fires) is available and called in when needed.
The town is intact.
Stay safe. Stay where you are.
7:20 am: The Fox Creek fire department and Ab Wildfire, tactical, air and ground crews are prepared for the fire to grow significantly today. Reinforcements, additional air support, and various imported personnel have arrived. We anticipate more to come.
Units will patrol the fire perimeter on foot and focus on extinguishing hot-spots and flare-ups. If weather and conditions allow, you can anticipate the creation of new and fortification of existing containment guards.
Two newly installed air monitoring units, one in Whitecourt and one in Fox Creek, will bolster the networks ability to keep track of air quality for us.
A solid police presence consistently patrols the community and monitors the entrances.
Coordinating this large scale offence, procuring supplies, water, equipment, fuel, preparing meals for 110 (yesterday), responding to phones, messages and email inquiries, is a massive task. It is busy here.
Little Smoky and surrounding area is now on mandatory evacuation alert. New evacuees will very likely be joining you at the Allan & Jean Millar Centre soon.
Stay safe. Stay where you are.
5:30pm: Not surprisingly, “Fox Creek Provincial Court will not be proceeding on May 15, 2023 @1000hrs. All matters have been transferred to Grande Prairie Provincial Court.
Trial matters will be re-scheduled.”
Should you have any questions or concerns please contact the Grande Prairie Courthouse at 780-538-5360.
4:30pm: Our town is intact.
Neither weather, nor fire behaviour projections are favourable for a Saturday homecoming. Rainfall here has been a fraction of what we need.
The Evacuation Order is not and will not be lifted on Saturday.
Monday is now our next critical day and the earliest the Emergency Response Team will be able to re-assess.
Additional fire suppression resources and personnel have and will continue to arrive tomorrow and over the weekend.
12:20 pm: If you have Fox Creek related questions, we have a dedicated email set up.
4:00 pm: Light showers and thunder this afternoon. No other changes. Fire line conditions remain much the same. Evacuation Order remains in effect.
11:45am: Unless something significant changes, there won’t be another update for a few hours, at least.
Job well done Mayor Sheila, Councilors Brenda, Kerri, Kim, Meesha and CRC staff.
11:15am: The Mayor and council members address to the community from the Allan & Jean Millar Centre.
7:45am: The town is intact. The fire has not grown overnight.
Today’s focus will be much the same as yesterday’s. Crews will work on containment guards and reduction burns.
Remember the Mayor and council will be at the Allan & Jean Millar Centre this morning. I do not have all the details about possible live streaming, yet. Watch the CRC page in case I am late getting it to you. https://www.facebook.com/foxcreekcrc
Chief Davidson “We have a two day window to set up defences,” he said.”It’s basically just sitting there, waiting to wake up depending on weather conditions.”
Some industry personal are being admitted into town to collect trucks or tools if on work related projects relevant to the maintenance, supervision or shut-down of industry infrastructure in harms way.
Specifically, operators and plant personal who are overseeing the protection and continued smooth operations of the plant facilities which feed the community and the province. If you are not part of that select few AND are not on the approved essential services list, you will not be permitted entry.
A Message from Our Doctors
Fire behaviour Thursday, Friday and into the weekend will present a completely different scenario and set of priorities for all of us.
Friday is the next pivotal day and the weekend is the next critical period. Therefore, the evacuation order remains in effect.
We are sorry, we know you want to come home. You will not be returning until after the next crucial period is assessed, this weekend. We cannot stress that enough. The risk to you and the community is high.
When home is deemed safe, we’ll let you know. Until then, we can offer little more of a homecoming prediction than “not until further notice.”
Alberta Wildfire has three helicopters, three dozers and one fire crew here, our department is in full force including the welcome return of some retired, familiar faces.
More resources are needed here and all over Alberta. Imported crews are arriving in the province daily.
7:45am: The town is intact.
The WWF023 fire is approximately 2 km east of Highway 43, 6km from town, and 52 km wide.
Yesterday’s cooler temperatures and reduced wind allowed our local fire department and AB Wildfire crews to create and fortify important containment lines to prevent spreading. AB Wildfire is working on dozer guards at the head of the fire, the FC department on backburns at the town borders. The forecast for today, and Wednesday will allow them to focus on building additional containment lines and strategic buffer zones.
Don’t let the skyline and current clear skies deceive you. This fire is out of control and burns deep into the ground. It is a sleeping giant. The situation can change quickly. Conditions on the fire line will vary depending on weather conditions.
The next two days of work are extremely important. Fire specialists anticipate the warming trend, expected to begin Thursday, will fan the flames, stir flare-ups, and stimulate growth. The containment guards being installed will slow spread, provide staging areas for active firefighting and clear pathways for crews and equipment to work or escape if necessary.
We are still under an evacuation order.
Firefighting crews are on site securing the Town’s perimeter with a backburn.
Backburns are intentionally started, controlled, small supervised fires used to create a break in the larger fires path. Controlled backburns use up the fuel, over a prescribed distance, as a measure to choke, or in best cases, prevent, the fire from spreading in that direction.
Not an actual photo of our backburn, but fairly representative of what is happening out there right now and how man-made fire breaks are created.
Also, dozer progress was made working on the far end (northwest) of the fire to reduce spread to Highway 43.
8:00am: Authorities, consultants, local fire department, Emergency Operations Staff and consultants will continue to monitor the situation.
The Town is intact.
More updates as we know more or if anything significant changes.
7:30am: Weather conditions are cool with light rain in Fox Creek. We are awaiting updates about the fire itself and suppression plans for the day.
As of last night: 2 crews assisting the town, 2 dozers and fire department working to enhance the perimeter guard around the town. Fire behaviour specialists are consulting and additional airtanker support requested. Estimate: 15,000 hectares.
9:40 pm: Conditions are stable. No further updates tonight UNLESS something changes. Goodnight neighbours, wherever you are.
7:30 pm: Alberta has made available a site to provide all evacuees with information, resources, and funds when necessary.
Also available, at the same link, an online check-in / registration if you are not near Whitecourt or your community’s assigned reception location.
6:00 pm: No significant change to note. Our community is still at risk. Winds and weather condition reports are not conclusive nor consistent enough to know anything for certain. Conditions can change quickly.
Thank you for heeding the evacuation call; remain alert where ever you are in the province, where ever you’ve found safety.
1:30 pm: This Whitecourt Forest Area update includes a fairly detailed description of the fire and ongoing efforts to mitigate. Residents in need of support or transportation out of town – please head to the Community Hall.
Roads are open going south, toward Whitecourt. Highway to GP, and the previous detour at Sturgeon Lake, are closed. Travel in that direction is NOT recommended. Evacuees are therefore advised to travel SOUTH.
11:30 am: we will experience an interruption in the town’s email services sometime today. When that happens – during that time – contact us through social media. The interruption is expected to be 1-2 hours.
11:07 am: It is extremely important that residents evacuate now.
As time goes by fewer resources will be available to assist late-departures.
Community support services, including transportation, are available at the Community Hall.
9:45 am – The Community Hall is our designated meeting place for those needing assistance. Support services are available there.
8:45 am- An Evacuation Order has been imposed. Residents are asked to check-in and register at the Allan and Jean Millar Centre 58 Sunset Blvd,
Whitecourt AB T7S 1N6 (780) 778-3637
More updates, details and information is forthcoming. We have activated our emergency management centre.
8:00 am- WE REMAIN on emergency alert. Winds are or have shifted. Evacuation potential today is VERY likely. Plan for it. Please. Will provide another update within the hour.
1:20 AM– no significant change to note. Conditions remain EXTREME and the Emergency Alert, BE PREPARED at a moments notice, is still in effect.
Should an evacuation order become necessary, other details, resources, options, advice or instructions will follow.
10:40 pm– according to weather sources, wind direction is forecast to shift. Conditions can change in minutes or hours.
A change in wind direction IS NOT favourable.
10:28 pm- An Emergency Alert was issued for Fox Creek.
The Alberta Emergency Alert system is reporting interruptions and delays in service due to high demand.
If you have not received it yet, it reads as follows:
There is a wildfire burning east of Fox Creek.
The fire is moving in the northwest direction and is being closely monitored for a change in conditions.
Instruction: Everyone in Fox Creek and the surrounding area must prepare for a possible evacuation. Gather pets, important documents, and medication and enough food, water and supplies for 3 days. This alert will be updated if an evacuation is required. Stay tuned to www.alberta.ca/emergencyalert and local media for updates.