Massive Wind Storm Hammers Region

Courtesy Acadia Valley Volunteer Fire Department near Hilda

Strong winds caused damage, down trees and fires from the BC border right into Saskatchewan

The storm that blew through Alberta Tuesday night left carnage from the BC border continuing well into Saskatchewan.  In Medicine Hat, the City activated the Emergency Operations Centre to deal with multiple fires as well as reports of power outages resulting from broken poles and downed power lines.  Residents from all areas reported damage from trees falling onto property and in some cases, houses.  Police had asked people to stay off the roads to allow crews to get to problem areas during the height of the storm.  Officials say the clean up could take several days in the city.

A grass fire was first reported north of Hilda that caused evacuation orders to be issued for the Hamlet as well as Acadia Valley, and the towns of Burstall and Leader in Saskatchewan.  Officials lifted some evacuation orders late in the evening, while other areas held them in place for safety reasons.  There has been no official word on any injuries or the amount of damage caused by the fires at this time.

The Prairie Rose School Division tweeted both Warren Peers School in Acadia Valley and Schuler School would be closed on Wednesday as a result of the fire situation and evacuations.

Several fires to the west of Lethbridge Tuesday evening as well. Residents of Moon River Estates, between Lethbridge and Fort Macleod, were issued a mandatory evacuation and sent to a reception centre in Fort Macleod.  An "out of control" fire burning west of Coleman in the Crowsnest Pass lead to evacuations, a State of Local Emergency and the closure of Highway 3 between Coleman and Sparwood, BC. A reception centre for those displaced residents has been set up at the Vertical Church in Pincher Creek. All schools in the Crowsnest Pass are closed Wednesday. The Town of Coalhurst has also reported a fire burning north and west of that community, saying local fire crews are on scene and will advise if area residents need to take action.

Ongoing wildfires, fuelled by high winds have also resulted in an evacuation order being issued for the Town of Gleichen. As of 8:30pm Tuesday, all residents were being asked to attend a reception centre at either the Strathmore Civic Centre or the Standard Community Hall. RCMP were going door to door to notify residents of the evacuation.

The Sharp Hill neighbourhood in Airdrie was also under an evacuation order Tuesday afternoon as a wind driven grass fire spread toward that area. All residents were evacuated to Genesis Place and while the fire was brought under control, there are reports at least one home was destroyed by the blaze.  ~~  Warren Affleck/ with files from CJOC's Tina Giesbrecht



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