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A New Out of Control Wildfire Forces Another Evacuation Near an Alberta Gas Plant

Wind is pushing the flames away from the town of Fox Creek, but the Trilogy energy plant may still be at risk, as wildfires tear through northern Alberta.

by Natalie Alcoba
May 16 2016, 3:30pm

Facebook/Fox Creek Fire Department

A new wildfire in Alberta has quickly grown out of control, forcing the evacuation of another community located near an energy plant.

The blaze, about 260 kilometers northwest of Edmonton, started Sunday afternoon, and now covers 800 hectares, just a fraction of the monster blaze that forced the evacuation of Fort McMurray two weeks ago, but still enough to declare a local state of emergency.

A mandatory evacuation notice has been issued for the Municipal District of Greenview, and the area south of the Hamlet of Little Smoky.

"The fire is demonstrating extreme wildfire behaviour and it's growing rapidly," said Barry Shellian with the province's agriculture and forestry department, according to the CBC.

The CBC reports that the wind is helping push the flames away from Fox Creek, the most populated town in the vicinity with about 2,000 people, and the Trilogy energy plant, which produces and sells natural gas, crude oil, and natural gas liquids.

The new wildfire comes as the wildfire dubbed the "beast" that devastated parts of Fort McMurray remains out of control and has chewed through 251,000 hectares of forest. A total of 15 wildfires are burning, with two out of control, officials said Sunday night. In total, there are more than 2,277 firefighters, 147 helicopters, 280 pieces of equipment and 29 air tankers battling the blazes.

Related: Canadian Oil Companies Start Work Again Around Fire-Ravaged Fort McMurray

The blaze drew international attention after it forced the evacuation of more than 80,000 people in and around Fort McMurray, the hub of the Canadian oil sands.

Officials estimate about 85 percent of Fort McMurray remains in tact, but certain neighborhoods have been completely destroyed.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited one such area on Friday, praised the firefighters and stressing that Canadians can't fully appreciate yet how much saved.

"It is a reflection not just of your extraordinary capacities and training, but of your courage and your will," he said, commending their ability to endure "the incredibly long days, the backbreaking and sometimes heartbreaking work."

Follow Natalie Alcoba on Twitter: @NatalieAlcoba