Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Alberta fire evacuees all home now

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Firefighting crews at the scene of a wildfire near Nordegg, Alta.

CLEARWATER REGIONAL FIRE RESCUE / THE CANADIAN PRESS Enlarge Image

Firefighting crews at the scene of a wildfire near Nordegg, Alta.

NORDEGG, Alta. -- The last of the evacuees forced from their homes by fires in west-central Alberta are being allowed to return.

Clearwater County says it has lifted an evacuation order for about 100 people from Nordegg, about 200 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.

A two-hour evacuation notice remains in effect, which means residents should still be prepared to leave.

Some trails and forestry trunk roads in the historic mining area remain closed as fire crews continue to battle the blaze.

Residents had to leave quickly last Sunday when wind-whipped flames crept to within little more than a kilometre of the hamlet nestled in the Rocky Mountain foothills.

Officials report that the fire is now considered to be held.

Despite being allowed to return home, residents should continue to be cautious, said Laura Brandon of Alberta Sustainable Resources and Development.

"We would like to encourage residents to watch for falling trees as the fire may have burned the roots of trees and any wind could cause trees to fall," she said Friday. "And you may see and smell smoke still in the community."

More than 100 firefighters, nine helicopters and other equipment were being used to keep the fire contained.

"It's not under control yet, but it is being held. We encourage residents to keep a watchful eye out and be extra careful, especially with the long weekend coming up," said Brandon, who reminded campers to be careful with fires.

Mike Haugen, a spokesman for Clearwater County, said crews feel they can keep on top of the fire.

"There are still some hot spots and still some areas burning, but they feel that they can hold it."

People from another hamlet under threat by a different fire were allowed to go home earlier this week. About 150 permanent and seasonal residents from Lodgepole, Alta., about 100 kilometres southwest of Edmonton, went back Wednesday.

That fire also ate its way to within a couple kilometres of the community.

The province said Friday afternoon the Lodgepole fire was under control. Brazeau County has lifted the two-hour evacuation notice for residents of Lodgepole.

However, Brazeau County still has a full fire ban in effect.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 18, 2013 A25

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