George Barnes, driver for Roadrunner Logistic, who has been trucking food in for the firefighting effort near High Level, took this photo of the red sky on Thursday, May 23, 2019.
George Barnes / Supplied
Sunday morning will be a tense one for fire crews battling the Chuckegg Creek fire near High Level.Winds are expected to shift toward the town early in the morning, picking up as the sun rises. It will put days of fire prevention efforts to the test, but crews are thankful they had the time to prepare.“We were very fortunate,” said Travis Fairweather, provincial wildfire information officer. A swath of bare earth cleared off by bulldozers is now three blades wide and 10 kilometres long beside the town, he said.In addition, nearly all the previously forested land between the town and the fire, currently three kilometres away, has been pre-burned in a careful manner by fire crews. That removed fuel for the fire from nearly 6,000 hectares. “They took out quite a bit.”In town, fire reinforcements from 22 different Alberta towns and municipalities have been checking yards. They’ve removed debris, propane tanks and patio furniture in an attempt to further reduce risk. Embers from a forest fire can travel up to one kilometre, and no one wants an errant spark to start a new blaze behind the lines.More help is arriving every day. Now more than 360 firefighters are on site, plus additional support teams.
Nearly 400 firefighters, 28 helicopters and eight air tankers continue to battle northwest Alberta wildfires near the town of High Level on Friday, May 24, 2019. Here crews tackle hotspots at the edge of the fire late Friday.
Chris Schwarz /
It makes for a happening town, even while the residents are still evacuated, said George Barnes, a truck driver who was contracted to haul food up north for the effort. He was last in town Thursday night, drove past the controlled burn just 10 metres from the highway and took photos of the eerie red sky.“The skies are just crazy,” he said, after driving back to Edmonton. “Once it gets hot in the afternoon, it’s crazy.”Edmonton residents can also expect smokier skies Sunday afternoon, although the worst of the smoke will be far northeast of the city.