Northern Alta. wildfire forces livestock to be moved

The massive wildfire burning in northern Alberta has forced some producers to move their livestock, causing them to take precautions in case the blaze approaches.

Fewer than 100 animals, mostly cattle, were moved Wednesday night from an area known as Tompkins Landing, according to Grant Smith, the agriculture fieldman for Mackenzie County.

He said the area is home to 20 to 30 producers and is located about 56 kilometres west of La Crete.

“They are very cautious and the mood is still good,” Smith said. “They are optimistic.”

He said even though parts of Tompkins Landing have been evacuated, some producers are able to go in to feed their animals. He estimated there are about 400 to 500 livestock still in the area.

“Like everyone else, we’re praying for rain,” he said. “It’s very dry and there is a lot of wind.”

The out-of-control blaze, known as the Chuckegg Creek Wildfire, has grown to 370,000 acres in size, causing the Town of High Level and nearby communities to evacuate.

About 390 wild land firefighters and staff have been fighting the fire in dry and hot conditions, using 28 helicopters and other equipment to help stem the flames.

According to the government, there are approximately 5,000 evacuees. Many have been staying at centres across the Peace region, including Slave Lake, High Prairie, Grande Prairie, La Crete and Fort Vermillion.

 

The Chuckegg Creek wildfire next to highway 58 west of High Level, Alberta on Saturday evening, May 25, 2019. |Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta

Smith said any animals that were moved are likely at the rodeo grounds in La Crete or Fort Vermilion or are with neighbours and family on other lands.

“We think right now we don’t have to move any more animals at this point,” he said. “We think the danger is off.”

Mackenzie County has stock trailers to assist with transporting animals. The trailers can be accessed by visiting highlevel.ca.

The province has provided more than $6 million in one-time, emergency support payments to evacuees.

People in the area can qualify for financial support by submitting an application. Those who qualify will receive $1,250 for each adult and $500 for each child.

Highway 35 is closed between approximately five km south of High Level and five km north of Highway 695.

As well, Highway 697 is closed between Highway 35 and Range Road 185, east of the La Crete Ferry, which is also closed.

It’s recommended that northbound travelers from the Peace River area detour using Highway 986 to Highway 88.

Contact jeremy.simes@producer.com

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