Over half million hectares of Alberta burning as some evacuees head home

Jun 5 2019, 2:50 am

Nearly 600,000 hectares of Alberta is burning as out-of-control wildfires grow larger throughout the northern reaches of the province.

The Chuckegg Creek Wildfire has now reached 280,000, though it is nearly matched by the now 238,000 hectare McMillan Wildfire Complex, which is burning just southwest of Bigstone Cree Nation.

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Peace River’s Battle Wildfire Complex, along with the Jackpot Creek wildfire, make up the remaining 75,000 hectares.

High Level residents, who were among the first to face a mandatory evacuation earlier last week, have now been given leave by authorities to return home.

Residents of some parts of Mackenzie County will also have the opportunity to return to their homes, though both regions remain under an evacuation alert and should still be prepared to leave on short notice.

According to a Monday update from the Government of Alberta, the following communities are under the evacuation alert:

  • Town of Slave Lake
  • MD of Lesser Slave Lake, including Old Smith Highway, Mitsue, Poplar Lane, Fawcett Lake, Eben Road, and Bayer Road
  • Peerless Lake area of Peerless Trout First Nation
  • Town of Manning and some surrounding areas
  • Mackenzie County: everyone north and south of the Peace River from Township Road 1030 north to Township Road 1110, west of Range Road 120 to Highway 35 south and southeast of High Level, and east of Range Road 180 (Blue Hills Road)

The following communities are under mandatory evacuations:

  • Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement
  • Some areas of Mackenzie County: west of Blues Creek, north of Highway 697, west of Blue Hills Road (RR 180) and north of Township Road 1030 and La Crete Ferry Campground to the Peace River.
  • Keg River, Carcajou, and all residents from the northern border of the County of Northern Lights to Township Road 922 (Notikewin Road)
    • Bigstone Cree Nation
      • Wabasca No. 166
    • Parts of the MD of Opportunity No. 17
    • Hamlet of Wabasca – Desmarais
    • Hamlet of Sandy Lake
    • Chipewyan Lake Village
  • Steen River
  • The Trout Lake area of Peerless Trout First Nation
  • MD of Lesser Slave River
  • Hamlet of Marten Beach

Environment Canada has renewed special air quality statements for the northern Alberta regions of Fort McMurray, Fort McKay, High Level, Rainbow Lake, Fort Vermilion, Mackenzie Hwy, Peace River, Fairview, High Prairie, Manning, Wabesca, Peerless Lake, Gift Lake, and Cadotte Lake.

Anyone having difficulty breathing is encouraged to find an indoor place that is cool and well ventilated.

According to the latest release, there are currently 2,300 wildland and structural firefighters and staff on the ground throughout the province being assisted by 228 helicopters and 28 air tankers and heavy equipment.

Evacuees who have been forced to leave their homes may qualify for $1,250 per adult, $500 per child in financial support from the Government of Alberta if they meet the following qualifications:

  • Were living, working, or vacationing in the affected area
  • Were forced to leave due to an evacuation order
  • Were forced to leave your residence (primary, working, or vacationing) due to a mandatory evacuation order – current communities include:
    • High Level
    • Paddle Prairie
    • Bushe River
    • Chateh
    • Meander River
    • Wabasca-Desmarais
    • Bigstone Cree Nation 166 A, B, C and D
    • Sandy Lake
    • Chipewyan Lake Village
    • Carcajou
    • Northern border of the County of Northern Lights to Township Road 922 (Notikewin Road)
  • Had paid for most of your costs to evacuate

A total of $6.8 million has been distributed to over 6,700 evacuees.

The majority of wildfires that occur in this province are human-caused — whether by a campfire that got out of hand or simply a cigarette butt tossed out the window on a warm summer day.

Albertans are being asked to refrain from these seriously dangerous actions, and fire bans have been put into place in the hopes that the number of wildfires this year will be limited.

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