May 15 – 2023 wildfire updates

May 15 at 9:45 a.m. – New evacuees come to Slave Lake, Wabasca hosts Chipewyan Lake evacuees

This article was updated on May 15 at 9:45 a.m. . The Leader will continue to monitor the situation, if things change updates will happen throughout the weekend. Otherwise, this article will be updated on Friday, May 19 around 4:30 p.m.

In the meantime, the most up to day wildfire information is on the Alberta Wildfire Status Dashboard. The Town of Slave Lake will be doing wildfire updates at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. through its Voyent Alert system, its Facebook page, and the older email alert system. People can register for Voyent Alert by clicking here. People can received emails, texts, or download an app. The M.D. of Lesser Slave River has Wildfire Status updates on its website, to go to these click here. Road closures are available at 511 Alberta. A list of active wildfire evacuations and alerts are here. Once a day when the wildfire danger is high, very high, or extreme, Alberta Wildfire publishes Slave Lake Forest Area updates at For Peace River Forest Area updates go to

Pearl Lorentzen Lakeside Leader / Smoky River Express / South Peace News

On May 14, around 700 evacuees from Dene Tha’ First Nation west of High Level were expected to arrive in Slave Lake. On May 14 at 9:33 p.m., Chipewyan Lake north of Wabasca was evacuated to Wabasca. On May 14, Peavine Métis Settlement was evacuated to Falher. These communities were threatened by different wildfires.
On May 14, prior to the Chipewyan Lake evacuation, 14 Alberta communities were evacuated because of wildfires. Another eight were on evacuation alert.


Dene Tha’

The Dene Tha’ were evacuated because of the Long Lake wildfire – High Level Wildfire 036 (HWF036). As of May 14 at 7 p.m., it was out of control and estimated at 78,400 ha. It was 23 km from Chateh in Dene Tha’. On May 6, Rainbow Lake was evacuated. HWF036 surrounded Rainbow Lake, but hadn’t burnt any structures.
A May 14 High Level Wildfire Update says, “With the extreme fire behaviour yesterday, the wildfire spread significantly north, northwest and east.”

Chipewyan Lake

The Chipewyan Lake evacuation was caused by Slave Lake Forest Area Wildfire 081 (SWF081). It was started by lightning on May 14 north of the Lake. The community of Chip Lake is on the southwest shore of the lake. As of May 15, SWF081 was out of control, estimated at 1,260 ha.

Peavine Métis Settlement

On May 14 mid-morning, Peavine Metis Settlement was evacuated to Falher and Grouard.

Falher FCSS figures there are about 60 to 100 people from Peavine in Falher, living in campers or with friends and family.

For some reason, neither the earlier East Prairie Metis Settlement or Peavine Metis Settlement evacuations are on the Alberta Emergency Alert. All other evacuations are on that system.

East Prairie Metis Settlement

As of May 15, East Prairie Metis Settlement remains evacuated to High Prairie. They were evacuated on May 5.

Big Lakes County

On May 14 at 4:23 p.m., Big Lakes County ordered the evacuation of residents south of Township Road 740, west of Range Road 152, east of Range Road 162 and north of Township Road 730. A fire southeast of the Town of High Prairie is moving northeast. If you are in the affected area you must evacuate immediately.

On May 14 at 3:15 p.m., Big Lakes County issued a four-hour evacuation alert for residents south and west of Peavine Metis Settlement. Any residents south of Township Road 800, east of Range Road 200, west of Range Road 134, and north of Highway 679 are on a FOUR (4) hour evacuation notice. A fire northwest of Peavine Metis Settlement has the potential to move south.

The rest of Big Lakes County was under a four-hour evacuation alert.

Evacuation alerts

Along with the Chipewyan evacuation on May 15, the Slave Lake Forest Area had two evacuations orders and one alert. East Prairie Métis Settlement remained under evacuation. It was evacuated to High Prairie on May 5.

On May 15 at 9:30 a.m., Sucker Creek First Nation issued a one-hour evacuation alert. This means that people need to be ready to leave the community with one hour notice. The wildfire was west of East Prairie Road – Hwy. 749. If an evacuation is order, it will be through Alberta Emergency Alerts and other channels.

Two older evacuation alerts were also still in place. Big Lakes County south and west of Peavine was on four-hour evacuation alert.

Atikameg in Whitefish Lake First Nation was on evacuation alert after returning from evacuation to Slave Lake on May 12.

Wildfires of note:

As of May 15, the Slave Lake Forest Area had seven out-of-control fires, two being held, and four under control.
The May 14 wildfire update didn’t include the Chipewyan Lake wildfire. From January 1 to May 14, there had been 78 wildfires in the Slave Lake Forest Area which burnt 158,040.57 hectares (ha). This was 32,538.86 ha more than on May 7.
As of May 15, none of the out of control wildfire were close to Slave Lake or Wabasca, or threatening any M.D. of Lesser Slave River communities.

SWF063, SWF057, and SWF064 are the Grizzly complex.

The May 14 update says, “the hot, dry conditions resulted in increased fire behaviour across all wildfires in the Grizzly complex. ”
SWF063 burnt through East Prairie Métis Settlement on May 5 and 6.
SWF063 burned 27 homes and a bridge in East Prairie, says a Global News article. Of these, 14 were people’s homes.
By May 7, SWF063 had stopped growing seven km southeast of High Prairie. As of May 15, it hadn’t gotten any closer to the town. It was 69,074 ha.
As of May 15, SWF057 was 8,136 ha. It was about 26 km south of Swan River First Nation and over 30 km southwest of Slave Lake. It didn’t jump Hwy. 33, but caused Hwy. 33 to have a 50 km speed limit.
SWF064 was in the Swan Hills and not near any communities. As of May 15, it was 22,220 ha.

May 11 – the three Grizzly Ridge wildfires. The largest was seven km from High Prairie. It burnt through East Prairie Métis Settlement and part of Big Lakes County. East Prairie was evacuated on May 5 and as of May 11 remained evacuated.

Nipisi Complex-SWF059,SWF060

The Nipisi wildfire complex was SWF060 and SWF059. SWF060 was 16,680 ha and 2.3 km east of Whitefish Lake FN border. This was the fire which caused the Whitefish evacuation and the reason for the alert. SWF059 was north of SWF060, at 1,036 ha. It wasn’t near any communities.
The most recent Slave Lake Wildfire Update from May 14 at 11 a.m. says, “As a result of the hot and windy conditions an increase in fire behaviour and growth towards the north and east occurred on the Nipisi Complex wildfires yesterday.”
This movement was away from Whitefish. For more information on Slave Lake Forest Area wildfires go to

The Nipisi Wildfires as of May 11. The community to the left, Whitefish Lake First Nation was evacuated on May 5. As of May 11, they were evacuated. They are currently in Slave Lake.


SWF068 started west of Peavine Métis Settlement on May 5. It grew northwest into the Peace River Forest Area. As of May 15, SWF068 was 38,716 ha. It caused the evacuation of Peavine on May 14. For more information on this wildfire go to

Volunteer to help evacuees:

As the wildfire season progresses, Slave Lake may host evacuees again. The Town of Slave Lake asks that anyone who is looking to volunteer to help with evacuees to send an email to and a Volunteer Coordinator will contact you or sign up here.

Fire ban and OHV restriction

As of May 5 and ongoing, both Slave Lake Forest Area and the Town of Slave Lake have a fire ban, including an OHV restriction. Under this fire ban:

All existing Fire Permits are suspended (or cancelled)

No new Fire Permits will be issued


  • All outdoor wood fires are banned, including wood campfires on public lands, wood campfires on private land and provincial campgrounds
  • Backyard firepits
  • BBQ charcoal briquettes
  • The use of fireworks and exploding targets
  • The recreational use of off-highway vehicles (OHV) on public lands, including designated OHV trails


  • Propane/natural gas-powered appliances
  • Open flame oil devices (e.g., turkey deep fryers, tiki torches)
  • Indoor wood fires contained within a device with a chimney and spark arrestor
  • All appliances must be CSA approved and used per manufacturer’s standards
  • Indigenous people when using an OHV for traditional purposes. Traditional purposes are hunting, fishing, and trapping – including the use of an OHV to travel to the location(s) for these purposes.
  • Essential industry-related activities requiring the use of OHVs.
  • Off-highway vehicle use is still permitted on private lands.

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