The wildfire that has engulfed over 100,000 hectares of northern Alberta continues to burn out of control.
A Sunday update from the Government of Alberta states that the Chuckegg Creek Wildfire — which is threatening the town of High Level — has grown to over 105,000 hectares in size and is approximately three km southwest of the town.
A number of communities throughout northern Alberta have fallen under heavy smoke warnings, as a change in wind has shifted the direction of the smoke northward.
High Level and the surrounding community of Mackenzie County have faced mandatory evacuations throughout last week, and now a voluntary evacuation is in place for Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement and areas north of High Level.
Those who have been evacuated may qualify for a $1,250 one-time financial support from the province if they meet the following criteria:
The $1,250 payment is per adult, and an additional $500 will be given for each dependent child.
As of May 26, there were 400 wildland firefighters, 194 structural fighters and staff, 28 helicopters, eight air tankers, and 46 pieces of heavy equipment fighting the wildfire.
1/x The Chuckegg Creek wildfire (HWF-042) is burning out of control in the High Level Forest Area, to the southwest and west of the town of High Level. The wildfire has been very active today and has crossed Highway 58 approximately 20 kilometres west of the town. pic.twitter.com/cDRx0Xoh4R
— Alberta Wildfire (@AlbertaWildfire) May 19, 2019
Around 4,300 people have been evacuated from the area so far, and a special air quality statement has been issued for most of Mackenzie County.
“Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk,” reads the statement.
“People with lung diseases, such as asthma and COPD, can be particularly sensitive to air pollution. They will generally experience more serious health effects at lower levels. Pollution can aggravate their diseases, leading to increased medication use, doctor and emergency room visits, and hospital visits.”
Those who are having difficulty breathing are urged to find a cool and well-ventilated indoor space such as a library, shopping mall, or recreation centre that has air-conditioning available.