May 2023 Fire
- At its regular meeting June 20th, Council rescinded the State of Local Emergency (SOLE), as the Pembina Complex fire does not currently pose a threat to property and people in the County.
- The evacuation alert for those living between Range Road 95 and the western county border has been cancelled.
There are currently no evacuation alerts or orders in Brazeau County.
Brazeau County has renewed the State of Local Emergency (SOLE) due to the Pembina Complex fire at the western edge of the County.
The SOLE gives the County powers it does not normally have outside emergencies, such as ordering evacuations if necessary.
- Brazeau County has declared a State of Local Emergency (SOLE) due to the Pembina Complex fire at the western edge of the County.The SOLE gives the County powers it does not normally have outside emergencies, such as ordering evacuations if necessary.
The State of Local Emergency originally declared May 5, 2023 due to the Buck Creek fire and renewed most recently May 23, has expired. Brazeau County will not renew the State of Local Emergency at this time.
The fire is contained, but emergency crews will continue to work in the affected area over the coming months. The burned area is dangerous due to ash pits, burning hotspots, and the potential for falling trees. Therefore, all residents are asked to stay out of the area and to watch for firefighting vehicles on and near roads. Crews continue to address hotspots, with a priority on those close to structures.
A total fire ban remains in effect for Brazeau County.
We understand that many people have questions and concerns about repairs to their property and fences that were damaged as a result of fire operations.
We have developed a plan to repair or replace agricultural infrastructure that was lost or damaged due to firefighting operations. This includes barbed wire fences, corrals, outbuildings or panels etc.
If your property was damaged as a direct result of the fire, please call your insurance company.
If damage was caused by heavy equipment or firefighters while they were carrying out the functions of mitigating the fire such as dozer guards, please click the link below to fill out the Livestock Handling Infrastructure Damage Report.
A municipal representative will reach out with next steps that will include an assessment of the property to determine what form of compensation will be provided.
For more information please call the Director of Emergency Management at 780-514-2388
- An evacuation notice remains in effect for residents of Brazeau County in the area indicated in the attached map. Residents within this area must be ready to evacuate within 30 minutes.Follow Drayton Valley and Brazeau County Facebook pages for updates and resources.
- Evacuation notice area for Brazeau CountyAn evacuation notice is in effect for residents of Brazeau County in the area indicated in the attached map. Residents within this area must be ready to evacuate within 30 minutes. The evacuation order (mandatory evacuation) has been lifted for all areas in Brazeau County.If you are returning home, drive with caution. Follow Drayton Valley and Brazeau County social media for updates and resources on re-entry.Areas
- Please note the Brazeau County Administration Building is not currently open for municipal operations. Agricultural equipment rentals, dust control application payments, and permitting are not currently available.
Full operations are expected to resume Tuesday, May 23rd.
All transfer stations have resumed normal hours.
Fire operations will proceed as they did yesterday, with fire fighters moving toward the interior of the burn area as they extinguish hotspots using crews on the ground and support from the air. Fire, smoke, trees burning at the roots and ‘torching’ or ‘candling’ to their tops is expected within the many ‘green islands’ within the fire burn path or what is known as the ‘black’ area.
More than 250 essential workers have been identified and brought back into the community to prepare for re-entry to our residents. Work with utility providers continues throughout the day to restore critical infrastructure and services.
The wind has shifted and brought smoke from other fires into the air, resulting in a 10+ (very high risk) rating on the air quality scale. Anyone with respiratory conditions should avoid strenuous activities outdoors. Children and the elderly should also avoid outdoor physical exertion. All others should reduce or reschedule strenuous activities outdoors, especially if you experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.
Despite adverse fire fighting weather and conditions, great progress was made getting us closer to full containment on the fire guard.
Select workers for critical infrastructure such as hospital, power and gas utilities and retail services including grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies have been allowed entry into the evacuation area today under a shelter in place order to re-establish services in preparation for when it is safe to lift the evacuation order.
Plans are underway to re-open the community to the general public as soon as it is safe to do so.
We expect to have more information tomorrow morning, stay tuned to our social media channels.
A state of local emergency remains in effect for both the Town of Drayton Valley and Brazeau County.
Crews continue to work on the Buck Creek wildfire, and have made great progress on identifying and extinguishing hotspots, assisted by heat scans overnight.
Today will again be hot and dry, but crews continue to extinguish hotspots near residential homes.
Currently there are more than 200 people conducting fire operations on the fire line, including crews from the Canadian Armed Forces, our local departments, and ones from across Canada and the U.S.
Work continues to establish a re-entry plan for residents for when it is determined that it is safe to do so. Despite the complexity involved in ensuring the community has the critical infrastructure in place, the plan is developing quickly, and all staff working in the Incident Command Post and Emergency Command Centre are working toward re-entry of the community as soon as is safe and feasible. Please continue to follow these social media pages or the Town of Drayton Valley and Brazeau County websites for updates.
- Now You Know - Fire InformationThere are “islands” of unburnt fuel within the “black” burned area that are capable of throwing embers and creating spot fires. Dozer guards were placed, however the fire was reported as starting spot fires as far as 600 metres downwind of the head of the fire. Control of this fire is reliant on those skilled workers building and holding the perimeter by quickly and safely managing spot fires that may jump. Self-deploying individuals, or the public ignoring the evacuation order could interfere with the response to these spot fires, and could result in an inability to effectively control the fires early before they have a chance to grow and make a “run”.
- As people remain evacuated from their homes there has been some concern from area property owners about the status of their homes as a result of the wildfire.Local officials have contacted people who have lost their homes to the Buck Creek wildfire. Unless you have received a call to inform you otherwise, we believe your home has not been destroyed by the wildfire.There are damages to other property types, such as vehicles and non-residential structures (sheds, fences, outbuildings) in various locations. This is something property owners will need to document and report to insurance upon returning to their homes.At this time, we would also like to remind people to be cautious about the source of information they are receiving and sharing. This is a difficult time for those evacuated and it is important to avoid sharing any information about potential home loss that may cause additional stress.Our thoughts are with those who have lost their homes during the wildfire.The Insurance Bureau of Canada offers resources relating to insurance for loss or damage to property due to wildfires through its website at http://www.ibc.ca/on/disaster/wildfires
We are pleased to report that due to great work by firefighters yesterday, the Buck Creek Wildfire did not grow despite the hot, dry conditions. Today’s forecast is for similar conditions, but we are encouraged by progress made yesterday and crews will continue working to mitigate the fire danger to our communities. Currently there are 270 people conducting fire operations on the fire line, including crews from the Canadian Armed Forces, our local departments, and ones from across Canada. We are grateful for them and their dedication to keeping our communities safe.
We are working quickly to establish a re-entry plan for when it is safe for everyone to return and critical infrastructure is in place to support residents. These include the hospital, municipal operations, utilities, grocery stores, fuel stations, etc. Our emergency operations staff are working closely with stakeholders to ensure these services are in place as soon as is feasible.
Please continue to follow our social media pages for updates. Stay safe.
Today, we want to take a moment to recognize all the amazing mothers in Drayton Valley and Brazeau County. We know that for many of you, today is not the celebration you had hoped for. The ongoing wildfire evacuations have disrupted daily life for everyone, and we know that this situation is particularly hard for mothers who are trying to care for their families during this uncertain time.
We want to acknowledge the strength and resilience of all the mothers who have been impacted by the wildfires. We see you, we appreciate you, and we are grateful for everything you do. Also, a heartfelt thank you to those mothers who are first responders and emergency personnel who are taking time away from their families to keep everyone safe and protect our communities. We hope that despite the challenges everyone is facing, you can find moments of joy and connection with your loved ones today.
To all the mothers and families who have been evacuated from their homes, we want to assure you that we are doing everything we can to support you and keep you safe. We will continue to provide updates and resources as the situation develops.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the incredible mothers in Drayton Valley and Brazeau County.
Fire crews once again worked throughout the day to extinguish hot spots and prevent the spread of the Buck Creek wildfire. The fire remains active, and forecasted conditions of hot, dry, and windy weather pose a challenge to firefighters.
This photo shows dozer guards around the fire perimeter.
Dozer guards use bulldozers to clear away brush from the fire line to create a fuel break to prevent the fire from spreading outside the perimeter. They allow firefighters to work more efficiently as it is easier to lay down hose in a cleared section rather than dense brush. Dozer guards also provide a safety area for firefighters working withing the fire zone.
We would again like to recognize the efforts of firefighters, Canadian Armed Forces, and other emergency personnel who have been working tirelessly to mitigate the wildfire danger and bring you home as soon as possible. While we currently do not have a date set for re-entry, we are working diligently on a re-entry plan to ensure as smooth a transition as possible back into the community.
We thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate this unprecedented situation together. Please check out our other posts for information on mental health supports, evacuee FAQs, activities for evacuees in Edmonton, and future updates on the fire situation.
We understand that the current situation has been challenging for everyone, including those who have been evacuated, their loved ones, businesses, and the crews responding to the emergency. We want you to know that it's okay to not be okay and that there is help available. If you're struggling, please reach out to the following resources:
- 24/7 Alberta Mental Health Helpline: 1-877-303-2642
- Crisis Text Line: text CONNECT to 741741
- Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868 (for youth)
- Addiction Helpline: 1-866-332-2322
- Family Violence Support: 310-1818
In addition to seeking help, here are some strategies that can help take care of your mental health:
- Connect with others: Reach out to friends, family, or a mental health professional for support. Having someone to talk to can make a big difference.
- Practice self-care: Take care of your physical health by eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. Make time for activities you enjoy, such as reading, listening to music, or practicing a hobby.
- Limit exposure to media: Stay informed but try to limit your exposure to news and social media. Set a schedule for checking updates and avoid consuming news before bed so you’re not anxious at night.
- Create a routine: Disasters and emergencies can disrupt daily routines, which can be stressful. Create a new routine that prioritizes self-care, social support, and other important activities.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness practices, such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga, can help reduce stress and increase resilience.
- Give back: Helping others by volunteering or getting involved in community initiatives can be a powerful way to boost your own mental health.
Remember that taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. You don't have to go through this alone, and there is support available for you.
For more mental health resources during an emergency, visit Alberta Health Services’ website: www.ahs.ca/wildfire.
Why are Hotspots such a Concern?
Hotspots in a wildfire can be dangerous, especially if they are not identified and contained properly. Here are some reasons why hotspots can be dangerous:
- Reignition: Hotspots are areas of the wildfire that are still burning or smoldering, even after the main fire has passed. If these hotspots are not identified and extinguished, they can reignite and start a new fire or grow an existing fire.
- Spread of fire: Hotspots can also cause the fire to spread to areas that were previously unaffected. For example, a hotspot may spread to a nearby tree or building and start a new fire.
- Health hazards: Hotspots can produce smoke, which can cause respiratory issues or other health problems. The smoke may contain toxic chemicals, so it is important to avoid inhaling it.
- Access issues: Hotspots may be located in remote or difficult-to-reach areas, which can make it challenging for fire crews to access and contain them. This can delay firefighting efforts and allow the fire to spread further.
- Structural damage: Hotspots can also cause structural damage to buildings or other infrastructure. For example, a hotspot may weaken a building's foundation or cause electrical issues.
Our crews are currently assessing the fires, including hotspots. We appreciate the public’s patience while the crews take the time to make sure hotspots don’t add to the current emergency situation.
With hotter temperatures and drier weather yesterday, we saw an increase in fire activity throughout the day and evening and well into the night. With forecasted hot and dry conditions for the weekend, including an increase in winds, we are anticipating the fire to get more active today and see increased smoke in the area as well.
Crews on the ground are continuing to extinguish hot spots and work on the dozer guard fire containment perimeter.
We have 150 fire fighters on the ground working in from the guard to extinguish hot spots and working into the burn area in the interior. Crews will also be working in strategic locations to protect infrastructure. 4 helicopters are also continuing their bucketing efforts today.
A phased re-entry plan is being developed for the Town of Drayton Valley, and the evacuated areas of Brazeau County. Prior to general re-entry, work needs to be done on restoring critical infrastructure that includes gas, power, telecommunications and key commercial industries such as gas stations, grocery stores, and the hospital.
More information on how re-entry for urban and rural properties will be accomplished will be provided as we move forward with planning.As our evacuees remain out of their homes for a longer period of time, we know people have more questions and our call centre is experiencing a higher volume of calls. We appreciate your patience with our call centre staff as they work to provide the information and respond to the requests they are receiving. Our call centre is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 780-542-7777.
For those who are currently evacuated from the community a number of resources are available at the evacuation centre at the Edmonton EXPO Centre located at 7515 118 Ave. NW. The Centre is providing temporary lodging, food services, clothing, animal care and health care.
Other locations in Edmonton are also offering services for evacuees.
- The Commonwealth Recreation Centre is offering free showers for evacuees if needed.
- YMCA of Northern Alberta is offering community members that have been forced to evacuate free access to the four YMCA Health and Wellness centres in Edmonton. Individuals and families are welcome to access these locations free of charge for recreational use, showering, etc. during standard hours of operation.
Evacuees can walk into any of the locations listed below and by showing photo ID may use the facilities for no charge for the duration of these evacuations.
• Castle Downs Family YMCA, 11510 153 Ave NW, Edmonton
• William Lutsky Family YMCA, 1975 111 St NW, Edmonton
• Don Wheaton Family YMCA, 10211 102 Ave, Edmonton
• Jaime Platz Family YMCA, 7121 178 St NW, Edmonton
These other facilities are also providing offers to evacuees:
- The Tri-Leisure Centre (located at 221 Jennifer Heil Way, Spruce Grove) is offering free facility access by showing photo ID
- The Amazone Playzone (located at 3210 118 Ave. NW, Edmonton) is offering free admission to wildfire evacuees.We are thankful to these facilities who are offering some respite and entertainment to our residents during this time. If anyone knows of any other facilities offering activities or supports for evacuees, please post in the comments below to share with other evacuees.