High Level Area Update

High Level Forest Area Update - July 20, 2024 (12:40 p.m.)

Posted on Sat, Jul 20, 2024


EVACUATION ORDERS are now in effect for all three LRRCN communities: John D'Or, Fox Lake and Garden River (July 20)

See below for links to the community and AEMA web and Facebook pages

A FIRE BAN remains in effect for the High Level River Area.

The forest area may experience heavy smoke over communities at times. Contact 811 for wildfire and smoke-related health concerns.

If you see smoke or flame in the forest and suspect it's a wildfire, call 310-FIRE (3473) immediately.

This update is best viewed on a web browser or the AB Wildfire Status App | View previous High Level Forest Area Updates. Bold indicates new or important information.


The Alberta Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) advises that Garden River is under an evacuation order, as of July 10. For more details, please visit https://www.alberta.ca/alberta-emergency-alert.aspx.

AEMA advises that the communities of John D'Or Prairie and Fox Lake are now also under an evacuation order (effective July 20). For more details, please visit https://www.alberta.ca/alberta-emergency-alert.aspx.

You can also follow Little Red River Cree Nation’s (LRRCN) Facebook page for updates at https://www.facebook.com/lrrcn or their website at https://lrrcn.ab.ca/ 


Fire Ban banner 

A fire ban is in effect as of July 10 in the entire Forest Protection Area of Alberta, including the High Level Forest Area, due to hot and dry conditions.

Cities, towns, villages and summer villages, as well as federal lands (such as national parks), are exempt from this ban. These jurisdictions have the authority to issue their own bans and may have complementary bans in place.

Visit Alberta Fire Bans to see if a fire ban or restriction is in place in your area.

Under this fire ban:

  • All fire permits are suspended or cancelled.
  • No new fire permits will be issued.
  • Some allowances can be made for essential agricultural and industrial burning, if approved by a forest officer.


  • All outdoor wood fires, including wood campfires on public land, private land, designated campgrounds, and backyard firepits
  • Barbeque charcoal briquettes
  • Fireworks and exploding targets


  • Propane/ natural gas-powered appliances
  • Indoor wood fires inside a structure (such as a facility, building, tent or RV) and contained within a device with a chimney and spark arrestor
  • Open flame oil devices (such as deep fryers and tiki torches). All devices must be CSA approved and used per manufacturer’s standards.

If you see a wildfire, report it immediately by calling 310-FIRE.

The fire ban will remain in effect until conditions improve.


The wildfire danger in the High Level Forest Area is EXTREME. This means that forest fuels are extremely dry and pose a serious fire risk. Fast-spreading, high-intensity fires are likely, which are very difficult to control.

There are currently 38 wildfires burning in the High Level Forest Area. Of these, 11 are out of control, 12 are being held, and 15 are classified as under control. Two of these wildfires are carry-over fires from the 2023 season. There are also two wildfires along borders: one shared with B.C. and one with the N.W.T. 

Since January 1, 2024, there have been 140 wildfires in the High Level Forest Area, burning a total of 210,373 hectares (ha).

You can view the location and statistics of these wildfires on our interactive map by following the active wildfire link. Visit our website to learn more about wildfire classifications.



Today, we expect a high of 30C with relative humidity (RH) of 35 percent and winds from the southwest at 10-15 km/h. Little precipitation is forecast. Chance of scattered thunderstorms in the evening.

HCX001 – Semo Complex (HWF053, HWF061, HWF081, HWF083, HWF136, HWF141, HWF143)

HCX001 – Semo Complex

The Semo Wildfire Complex is located north of John D'Or Prairie, Garden River and Fox Lake. A few of the wildfires in this complex are located within Caribou Mountains Provincial Park, between the Ponton and the Wentzel River. An Incident Management Team is in place on this wildfire complex, and response efforts are being aided by firefighters from Alaska, Ontario, P.E.I. and New Brunswick.

July 20_Semo Complex - Megan now

       A truck sprays fire retardant in an area near Garden River, Alta., one of the communities threatened by the Semo Wildfire Complex (July 20, 2024).


Weather Forecast | Semo Complex

Today, the forecast is calling for a high of 32 C with relative humidity (RH) of 25 percent. The winds will be from the SE at 10-15 km/hr, gusting to 30km/hr on occasion.

We can expect to see crossover conditions continuing in the coming days, with little to no precipitation in the forecast until next week.

Smoke and Ash

People in the region may see falling ash. It is likely that, if the current smoky conditions clear up, smoke columns may be visible tomorrow as hot and dry conditions persist. This is expected as the complex is under a fire behaviour advisory, meaning that fast moving fire is anticipated.

HWF053 is currently burning OUT OF CONTROL. It's estimated to be 709 ha in size. This wildfire was determined to have been caused by lightning.

HWF061 is a lightning-caused wildfire currently burning OUT OF CONTROL. There was overnight growth on this wildfire and it is now estimated to be 95,197 hectares (ha).  This wildfire is now approximately 19 km northeast of John D'Or Prairie’s main community and approximately 15 km north of Fox Lake.

Work is planned today for a containment line to go in alongside Foggy Tower Road. Because of challenging access to this wildfire, very limited visibility and aggressive fire growth, the focus of work today will be using heavy equipment to widen Highway 58 and increase its effectiveness as a containment line.

Visibility issues, combined with higher intensity fire behaviour, continue to present considerable challenges for fire personnel especially with air access. Fire activity is expected to remain intense, with hot and dry weather continuing and little to no precipitation expected. The high temperatures and lower humidity will create cross-over conditions, which is when the relative humidity is lower than the temperature, creating more significant fire behaviour.

Additional Structure Protection resources have been called in and will be starting work in the community of John D’or Prairie. Other Structure Protection teams are continuing work in Fox Lake and will be finishing up the final set-up tasks in Garden River.

HWF081 is OUT OF CONTROL at 47,849 ha and continues to grow slowly under current conditions, although no significant runs have been observed. Firefighters and aircraft will monitor this fire and provide support when needed. The investigation found that this wildfire was caused by lightning.

HWF083 is OUT OF CONTROL at 32,840 ha. Firefighters will continue to monitor this wildfire and provide support when needed. The investigation found that this wildfire was caused by lightning.

HWF136 is currently burning OUT OF CONTROL at 4,137 ha in size. It is approximately 13 km northwest of Garden River and now 3.9 km north of Highway 58. Its cause remains under investigation. A crew of firefighters from Alaska are preparing to do hand ignition on this fire to tie it into a containment line in the area and Fritz Creek. Ignition is carefully planned in advance and is only carried out if specific criteria and conditions are met. This work will help strengthen and repurpose the area as a containment line for both this wildfire and HWF061.


Pioneer Hotshot crews from Alaska are focused on wildfire HWF136 (July 19, 2024).

HWF141, which is currently burning OUT OF CONTROL north of HWF061 and east of HWF081, covering approximately 2,038 ha. Its cause is under investigation.

HWF143 is currently burning OUT OF CONTROL, and was last estimated at approximately 3 ha. It is located south of Highway 58, approximately 13 km west and slightly south of Garden River. Today, several fire crews are working on-the-ground on this wildfire.


  Expand (click) to view the full public map of the Semo wildfire complex.


An incident management team is responsible for the personnel and resources assigned to the Amber River Complex and its seven wildfires: Bistcho Lake (HTZ001), HWF030, HWF065, HWF072, HWF074, HWF075 and HWF091). There are currently 69 personnel, 12 helicopters and 5 pieces of heavy equipment working on the wildfires within the Amber Complex. The wildfires in this complex do not currently threaten any communities.

Weather Forecast | Amber River Complex

Today, the weather forecast is expecting temperatures reaching 30C for most of the Amber River Complex area with relative humidity dipping to 35 percent. Winds from the southwest 10-15 km. Change of scattered thunderstorms in the evening. 


Smoke columns may be visible for residents in nearby communities into the afternoon and evening as these times are usually peak burning periods. Intense fire behaviour can be expected over the next several days due to dry conditions. Smoke drift may be seen in communities where it hasn’t previously been seen due to shifting wind directions over the next couple days as well.

Smoke conditions have continued to limit the ability to conduct air-operations on fires HWF065, HWF072, and HWF091 within the Amber River Complex this morning. 

HTZ001 is a mutual aid wildfire that originated in the border zone with the Northwest Territories (N.W.T.) in 2023. The BISTCHO LAKE section of HTZ001, which is estimated to cover an area of 95,000 ha, is actively burning on the NE and SE sides of Bistcho Lake, and its status is OUT OF CONTROL.

Please see NWT Wildfire Update Map and the South Slave SS009-24 Update for more information on their activities and wildfire status in the N.W.T. area.

HWF030 is BEING HELD and is estimated to cover an area 3,221 ha in size. The cause of this fire is under investigation. Today, firefighters will work on along the fires edge in priority areas to help improve containment statues. 

HWF065 is burning OUT OF CONROL and is estimated to cover an area 23,092 ha in size. This wildfire is about 2 km southwest of Bistcho Lake and was determined to have been caused by lightning.

HWF072 is burning OUT OF CONTROL and is estimated to cover an area 7282 ha in size. This wildfire was determined to have been caused by lightning. This wildfire, which is approximately 60 km northwest of Chateh, does not currently pose a threat to any communities. 

HWF075 is UNDER CONTROL and is estimated to cover an area 3 ha in size. This wildfire was determined to have been caused by lightning.

HWF091 is BEING HELD and is estimated to cover an area 1602 ha in size and is located northwest of HWF065. Monitoring continues on this wildfire for potential threats.


HWF133 is burning OUT OF CONTROL and is estimated to cover an area 336 ha in size. The cause of this fire is under investigation.

HWF047 is burning OUT OF CONTROL and is estimated to cover an area of 1400 ha in size. This wildfire was determined to have been caused by lightning. Helicopters are working on this wildfire today.

To view these and other wildfires in the province, view our interactive map by following the active wildfire link.   


The fire danger is very high to extreme throughout the northeast boreal and the agricultural zone. It is moderate to high along the northwest and the slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

Since January 1, 2024 in the Forest Protection Area of Alberta, there have been 893 wildfires burning a total of 442,925 hectares (ha).

Last year, on this date, there were 872 wildfires that burnt a total of 2,160,118 ha. In the past five years on this date, an average of 735 wildfires had burnt an average of 624,393 ha. 


DANGEROUS TREES | Be extra cautious near burnt areas and avoid forested areas that have been recently affected by wildfire. Hazards remain from deep ash pits, burning peat and falling trees or branches, especially if windy.

SMOKE | Lingering smoke may still be visible in some areas and in affected communities. Smoke inversions can trap air near the ground causing dangerous driving conditions and poor air quality. Please use extra caution when driving in smoky conditions. To see forecasted smoke, please visit FireSmoke.caIf you have smoke related health concerns, please visit or contact Alberta 811.

ALBERTA HEALTH WILDFIRE RESOURCES | You can visit Alberta Health Services for information on how you or your loved ones can access resources related to wildfire impacts and smoke concerns.

DRONES | The use of recreational drones over wildfires in Alberta is dangerous, illegal and could result in a fine of up to $15,000* for putting aircraft and people at risk. Please give firefighters the space they need to do their jobs safely. *Transport Canada.


At this time, the High Level Forest Area is not issuing any permits. All existing permits are currently suspended.

High Level Forest Area | Permit Line: 780-926-5407. Stay informed of fire restrictions and fire bans in your area by checking Alberta Fire Bans


FireSmart is a national program that helps Canadians increase their resilience to wildfire. Whether you are a homeowner, resident, business, local government, or Indigenous community, you can take small steps with lasting impacts.

Vegetation management is the modification of wildland fuels for the purpose of mitigating the potential intensities and impact of wildfire. Vegetation management as a strategy for reducing wildfire hazard makes a lot of sense: wildfire requires fuel, in the form of vegetation, to burn. If we can change the fuel, we can change the wildfire's behaviour. For suggestions on landscaping tips, you can view the FireSmart Guide to Landscaping

To learn more on how you can protect your home, visit FireSmart Alberta. For farm or acreages, you can download the Farm and Acreage FireSmart magazine.


  • Download the Alberta Wildfire app today and get access to accurate, real-time information on wildfires in your area. You can also find information on fire advisories, restrictions and bans across the province and much more all on your mobile device. Available for Apple and Android.
  • Before heading out, check the fire bans website or download the app to determine if there are any fire advisories, fire restrictions or fire bans in effect for your destination.
  • Subscribe to the High Level Forest Area Update to receive an email when new information is posted. Join the conversation on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.
  • Missed an issue of the High Level Forest area Wildfire Update? You can find previous updates on our website.
  • For evacuation orders and alerts in the Province visit Alberta Emergency Alerts or your community webpage for more information.
  • For road closure information, visit Alberta 511 or download the app.
  • To see all the wildfires burning in Alberta click here.
  • Learn how you can prepare yourself for a wildfire with some tips and tricks on wildfire preparedness.

310-FIRE  flames trees

For more information, please contact:  
 Mark Canva
Mark Giles, APR
Alberta Forestry & Parks | AB Wildfire
Wildfire information officer for the High Level Forest Area
Daniel Troke
Alberta Forestry & Parks | AB Wildfire
Wildfire information officer for the Slave Lake Forest Area
Read More