Lac Ste. Anne County today provided a status update regarding recent wildfire events, including the County’s request to the Province to declare a State of Provincial Emergency.
At approximately 2:00 pm on Friday, May 5, 2023, a fire broke out in the community of Lessard Lake Estates (referred to as the 553 Lessard Lake Fire). Lac Ste. Anne County Fire Services responded to this fire, working in tandem with fire crews from Alberta Wildfire and adjacent municipalities to preserve the 134 residential and recreational properties in the affected area. Regrettably, the County was unable to save 21 properties from the fire; four of which were total losses.
At the time of posting, a total of four recreational vehicles, five structures, and 12 outbuildings have been destroyed. The County is working on a full assessment of damages to these properties.
Because this fire is still active, access to the Lessard Lake Estates subdivision is restricted to responders. Public safety is paramount as is the safety of the first responders on scene. Road blocks are in place to ensure that unnecessary traffic is not allowed into the scene.
Stay away from the active fire areas. If you are within the mandatory evacuation areas, please leave immediately.
Presently, 553 Lessard Lake Fire is not contained. An additional 500-hectare-fire that affected Rge Rd 60 to Rge Rd 63, from Twp Rd 554A to Twp Rd 560 is listed as contained, and is being monitored as there is still flare-ups occurring. All information related to the wildfires, including information for displaced residents, will continue to be posted to the County website and social medi channels.
“This is the hottest, driest season we’ve had in years,” shared Lac Ste. Anne County Reeve Joe Blakeman. “I commend our Fire Services personnel for giving their all to deal with the recent wildfire events. I also extend my gratitude to responders from Barrhead and Woodlands counties, Busby, St. Albert, Ponoka, and elsewhere for helping us deal with these critical events. Everyone is working together to the extent possible, which is increasingly difficult given the wildfire events in other parts of the province.”
“It goes without saying that I am saddened by the property losses; but at the same time I am relieved to hear that there have been no casualties, nor any loss of livestock.”
County Seeks Provincial Resources
On May 5, 2023, Reeve Blakeman sent a letter to Premier Danielle Smith requesting that she declare a Provincial State of Emergency and deploy the required resources to the County and similarly-affected regions on an expedited basis. In his letter, Reeve Blakeman expressed an immediate need for additional personnel, equipment, food, and shelter.
“Much of rural Alberta is reeling from one of the most dangerous wildfire seasons in recent memory, and we’ve just started the season,” shared Reeve Blakeman. “Granted, the Province has stepped in to provide periodic assistance, but it’s simply too sporadic. Our crews held the 553 Lessard Lake Fire for hours, but with little air support from the Province due to the redeployment of their resources to Edson and Drayton Valley, the fire jumped the break and 21 structures were lost.”
“Following a conference call with Parkland County Mayor Allan Gamble, Yellowhead Mayor Wade Williams, Brazeau County Mayor Bart Guyon, and with the guidance of the Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland Constituency Office, we’ve reached out to the Premier to declare a State of Provincial Emergency. We’ve also asked Rural Municipalities of Alberta President Paul McLauchlin to help us drive the message home to the Province that we need their help; we need the declaration, now.”
The County has not yet received a response from the Province regarding Reeve Blakeman’s May 5 request for a Provincial State of Emergency declaration. Reeve Blakeman further shared that, once the wildfires have been contained, the County will work with displaced residents on a re-entry plan to return to their homes in a timely organized manner.
“We certainly understand the sense of urgency, but we also have to prioritize safety. We still have crews actively battling the blaze. Once we overcome the crisis at hand, we will work with affected residents to return to a state of normalcy. To be clear, however: this is not the time to have these discussions.”
All updates and directives related to the wildfires will continue to be posted to the County website and social media channels. Residents who visit CountyConnect.ca and opt in to the County’s emergency notification system can also receive wildfire status updates via text, email or voice message.