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Updated: 8th January 2019 11:59

Southern Alberta gale-force winds fuel grass fires

Fire crews battled three grass fires spurred on by high winds and a dry, warm climate in southern Alberta Wednesday.

All 3 fires now under control

As grass fires burn near Lethbridge and temperatures rise, CBC's Carla Beynon looks at Alberta's strange January weather 2:09

Fire crews battled three grass fires spurred on by high winds and a dry, warm climate in southern Alberta Wednesday.

A downed power line sparked a grass fire south of Nanton, roughly 90 kilometres from Calgary, which then burned toward the east.

Residents in about 25 houses were notified that they might have to leave.

Gale-force winds have blown over multiple vehicles and semis on southern Alberta highways. (Mary-Catherine McIntosh/CBC)

The fire destroyed three residences, and other structures in the area are being checked for damage. Officials said the winds were clocked as high as 117 kilometres an hour, creating a perfect tinder box for two massive fires that grew quickly and blackened the sky.

About 100 residences between Granum and Fort Macleod, about 150 kilometres south of Calgary, were also on evacuation alert as a large grass fire fuelled by high winds burned nearby.  

Visibility in the area was reduced because of heavy smoke. Two firefighters suffered non-life-threatening injuries while battling the flames, one was treated for smoke inhalation.

The Municipal District of Willow Creek had declared a state of emergency, but officials say the two grass fires are now under control.

Cynthia Vizzutti, deputy director of emergency management for the Willow Creek district, said some acreages and farms near Fort Macleod had been evacuated and displaced residents are being housed in Fort MacLeod.

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Parts of Highway 2 near Fort Macleod were closed as several fire crews in the area tried to put out the fire, which was spreading across the highway.

RCMP were also reporting there were multiple vehicle rollovers at that location. Motorists, especially drivers of large transport trucks, were being asked to find an alternate route.

High winds in the area were causing most of the problems. RCMP were also warning against travel on Highway 2 between High River and Claresholm because of the wind.

Winds spread fire near Saskatchewan border

Fire crews are also dealing with a large grass fire near Walsh, about 345 kilometres southeast of Calgary near the Saskatchewan border.

The fire has been contained and the flames are now isolated to some hay bales.

As crews continue to put out hot spots, all roads in the area are now open to motorists.

Due to high winds, the fire spread quickly and had crossed into Saskatchewan.

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