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Out-of-control wildfire prompts evacuation alert for Fort McMurray, Saprae Creek Estates Friday night

An evacuation alert was issued for two Wood Buffalo communities Friday night, as crews battled an out-of-control wildfire near Fort McMurray.

The wildfire burning 25 kilometres southwest of the northeastern Alberta city had grown to 200 hectares by 6 p.m. Friday night, quadrupling in size over two hours.

The fire prompted evacuation alerts for Fort McMurray and the Hamlet of Saprae Creek Estates to the south.

Residents were asked to be ready to evacuate on short notice, keeping medication, important documents and emergency kits ready.

The Fort McMurray Forest Area is under an “extreme” wildfire danger, according to the Alberta Wildfire website. A fire restriction is in place.

Officials reported Friday night that strong winds were expected to last overnight, further driving “extreme fire behaviour.”

Out of 44 active wildfires as of 6:30 p.m., the one near Fort McMurray was one of three burning out of control.

Grande Prairie

Another out of control fire was burning north of Hythe near Grande Prairie Friday night.

On Thursday, officials said a lack of rain in northern Alberta resulted in a fire ban across the Grande Prairie Forest Area.

“They just didn’t get the precipitation,” Alberta Wildfire spokesperson Christie Tucker said in the weekly provincial wildfire update Thursday morning in Edmonton.

“We know in the short term this weekend, we are expecting dry conditions, we’re expecting warm conditions, we are looking at winds in a couple of areas that could provide additional danger, and so we are increasing our caution for this weekend, particularly in those areas that didn’t get as much rain around the Peace and Grande Prairie region,” Tucker explained.

For the most up to date information on active fire bans in Alberta, visit www.albertafirebans.ca.

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