Grass fire on Blood Reserve
Published Monday, September 10, 2012 4:52PM MDT
Last Updated Monday, September 10, 2012 6:20PM MDT
Firefighters are battling a huge grass fire west of Lethbridge and a local state of emergency has been declared.
The blaze started on Monday morning west of Highway 509 and fire crews from Lethbridge, the County of Lethbridge and the Blood Reserve were called out to fight and try to contain the blaze.
Smoke has been drifting across the reserve into parts of west Lethbridge and the public is urged to stay away from the area and keep the roads clear so vehicles are not blocking emergency crews.
Emergency officials say the smoke may also reduce visibility and create hazardous road conditions and they are encouraging people who are sensitive to smoke to stay indoors and keep windows closed.
Several streets in west Lethbridge have been closed to prevent traffic congestion.
The county declared a local state of emergency and say the fire has not yet jumped the river.
Residents in Mountain Meadows, Sunset Acres, Westside Trailer CourtTownship 8-22, Coalhurst and Bridgeland Campground are being advised to evacuate immediately.
There is the possibility that residents in West Highlands and Indian Battle Heights will also be evacuated from the area.
The city is asking residents to limit cell phone use to keep the lines clear for emergency services and says to check on elderly and disabled neighbours to see if they require assistance.
The Canadian Red Cross has opened three evacuation centres:
- Fritz Sick Memorial Gym - 420 11 St. S. Lethbridge
- Enmax - 2510 Scenic Drive
- Picture Butte Community Centre - Main Street, Picture Butte
The University of Lethbridge is canceling scheduled evening classes for Monday night to help alleviate road congestion so crews can get through.
They are not evacuating students and will continue to provide food services to staff and students on campus.
Highway 3 between Lethbridge and Coalhurst remains closed.
For the latest information, visit the City of Lethbridge website.