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Out-of-control wildfire prompts evacuation alerts for several Wood Buffalo communities, including Fort McMurray

Evacuation alerts were issued for multiple Wood Buffalo communities Friday and Saturday, as crews battle an out-of-control wildfire near Fort McMurray.

A wildfire burning 16 kilometres southwest of the northeastern Alberta city covered 1,492 hectares Saturday afternoon. 

Due to the fire, evacuation alerts for Fort McMurray and the Hamlet of Saprae Creek Estates were issued Friday night. 

Saturday, another alert was issued for Gregoire Lake Estates, Fort McMurray First Nation #468 and Anzac. Rickards Landing Industrial Park was also put on alert.

Residents should be prepared to evacuate on short notice, keeping medication, important documents and emergency kits ready. Updates can be found on the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo website

Officials said Highway 63 was expected to be impacted by the fire, closing temporarily south of the Highway 63 and 88 junction. Access to Fort McMurray on Highway 881 was not expected to be affected or closed. 

The Fort McMurray Forest Area remained under an “extreme” wildfire danger Saturday, according to Alberta Wildfire, and a fire restriction remained in place. 

Officials reported Friday night that strong winds were expected to last into Saturday afternoon, driving “extreme fire behaviour.”

Alberta Wildfire said overnight operations had been successful and heavy equipment crews were working to build a fire guard on the east side of the fire.

Five crews of wildland firefighters, and nine helicopters and air tankers continued to work on the fire. 

Out of 47 active wildfires as of 5 p.m. Saturday, the fire near Fort McMurray was one of two burning out of control. The other was in the Grande Prairie Forest Area near the Hamlet of Teepee Creek.

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