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Wildfire roundup: What you need to know about blazes burning across Canada

Wildfires are burning dangerously close to a central Albertan town in what federal officials say is an "unprecedented" fire season across Canada.

Wildfires are burning dangerously close to a central Albertan town in what federal officials say is an "unprecedented" fire season across Canada. Here's a look at developments Sunday:

Portion of Edson evacuation zone may be lifted Monday

A strip of a wildfire threatening the town of Edson, Alta., did not encroach further on Sunday due to favourable weather and the large amount of forestry resources being thrown at it, Yellowhead County officials say.

Luc Mercier, the chief operating officer of Yellowhead County, says the finger of the fire did grow and expanded outward, though not significantly.

However, he says the fear remains that the fire could flare up suddenly, so the Edson area's evacuation order remains.

Mercier says Yellowhead County is looking at the possibility of lifting a portion of the evacuation zone, but will make the call tomorrow based on weather conditions.

The rest of the zone will remain under evacuation for at least another day.


Central Alberta wildfires continue to grow

An official in Yellowhead County west of Edmonton says wildfires threatening the area continued to grow overnight but got no closer to evacuated communities.

That includes the town of Edson, Alta., where about 8,400 people were ordered to leave late Friday.

Despite the appearance of a lull in the severity of the blazes, municipal officials in the region told an online update this afternoon that the evacuation orders will stand.

Luc Mercier, the chief operating officer of Yellowhead County, says the fires are "on our doorsteps" and the situation can change rapidly.

The county faced evacuations due to another wildfire last month, and Mercier says fire activity had calmed down enough for officials on Wednesday consider closing their emergency control centre.

But by Friday, he says that idea went out the door.


New evacuations triggered in B.C.

Residents in parts of northeast British Columbia have been asked to flee their homes because of encroaching wildfires.

The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality has issued an evacuation alert for the remote areas of Ittsi Creek and Maxhamish Lake, located about 125 kilometres north of Fort Nelson.

On Vancouver Island, the first guided convoy of essential services vehicles left Lake Cowichan today on an unpaved logging road, heading toward several communities cut off by forest fires.

Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino have been stranded since a wildfire cut off access to Highway 4, the area's major transportation link.

Pilot vehicles will guide convoys of commercial vehicles carrying people and supplies to those communities until further notice.


Fire crews knocking on doors in central Alberta

Officials in Edson, Alta., say firefighters are going door-to-door to help fireproof homes in the community, which is threatened by an approaching forest fire.

The town says in a news release that fire crews are moving flammable items including propane tanks and wood piles away from houses and other structures.

Peace officers and members of the RCMP are also doing regular patrols.

Evacuation orders remain in place for Edson and parts of Yellowhead County, which is about 200 kilometres west of Edmonton.

Officials said in a video update Saturday that the massive fire was just 1.5 kilometres south of Edson's boundary.


Fire chews through transmission towers near Edson

Alberta’s largest regulated electricity transmission company is warning residents in areas near the town of Edson to be prepared for extended power outages.

AltaLink issued a series of tweets saying several transmission towers south of Edson have been consumed and toppled by a spreading wildfire.

The company says so far, transmission infrastructure supplying power to towns west of Edson has not been affected.

The Saturday evening tweets from AltaLink say the situation remains fluid.


Quebec firefighters get help from France

Quebec's natural resources minister says wilderness firefighters are now taking the offensive against the province's forest fires rather than simply reacting to the blazes. 

Maïté Blanchette Vézina says coordinated attacks against the fires are now possible due to reinforcements from other jurisdictions, including a team of wilderness firefighters from France.

She says there are still 131 fires burning in the province, but the number of blazes deemed out of control has dropped by 28 to 44.

But she says it's not yet safe to allow people to return to any of the communities that have been evacuated.

Later in the day, however, the mayor of Chibougamau, Que., said the roughly 7,500 residents forced from their homes by an evacuation order could start returning as of Monday   

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 11, 2023.

The Canadian Press