Extreme wildfire danger in Slave Lake, Alberta

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Local crews are already trying to put out large wildfire burning a few kilometers from the northwestern Alberta town of High Level.

Almost 5,000 people have been evacuated from the area of High Level-a Northern Alberta town-as a wildfire rages just south of its borders.

Norbord Inc said on Tuesday it suspended production at its oriented strand board (OSB) mill in High Level, Alberta, to comply with evacuation orders following nearby wildfires.

Earlier estimates said flames were within three kilometres.

Meanwhile, an out-of-control wildfire about 25 kilometres southwest of High Level that covers 25,000 hectares was expected to grow Sunday due to strong wind gusts from the southeast. Friends in High Level ferried their daughter out of town and they have since reunited.

She said about 4,000 people from High Level were affected by the order, and another 750 from Bushe River.

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Residents should be prepared to be away from home for at least 72 hours, officials said. All evacuees must register at the High Level Arena (10101 105 Ave).

Alberta Transportation has closed Highway 35 south of High Level due to the fire, and Alberta Emergency Alert is warning there is a chance of an electrical disruptions.

There have been 430 wildfires in Alberta since March 1, of which 30 are still active and five are classed as out of control. It is heading northwest, and smoke from the blaze is visible from town.

It says that the town, which has over 3,000 residents, isn't in immediate danger but that residents should be vigilant as the situation could change rapidly.

"If there was a subtle shift in the wind direction, that would increase the likelihood of rapid fire spread towards the community", Elliot said. Slave Lake is one of the reception centres for the Chuckegg Creek fire.

"People are of course afraid because they remember the wildfires of Fort McMurray, but we talked to a lot of the residents and reaffirmed that we are being proactive", High Level Mayor Crystal McAteer said in the conference call with reporters.

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