The province of Alberta continues to grapple with severe wildfires, prompting the declaration of a provincial state of emergency to remain in place for the foreseeable future. With fire danger reaching extreme levels, authorities are taking extensive measures to combat the blaze and ensure the safety of residents.
Northern Alberta is facing an alarming fire danger, with temperatures predicted to rise in the coming days. The Rockies also remain at a moderate to high fire risk. The Alberta Wildfire Status Dashboard provides up-to-date information on the current wildfire situation, while a fire ban and off-highway vehicle restriction are in effect across the Forest Protection Area. Some regions of Alberta are experiencing moderate to high-risk smoky conditions, which can have adverse health effects. Individuals are encouraged to visit firesmoke.ca to determine the source of the smoke affecting their area and understand potential health impacts.
To ensure the safety of residents, evacuation orders have been issued in various areas affected by wildfires. The latest information shows 23 evacuation orders and 17 Alberta Emergency Alerts, including 12 critical alerts and five advisories. The number of evacuees has reached 19,576, necessitating significant support and assistance. While the town of Drayton Valley and parts of Brazeau County have been cleared for re-entry operations, Swan Hills recently received a mandatory evacuation order. These orders and alerts are continuously updated to respond effectively to the evolving wildfire situation.
The province has mobilized a concentrated response to combat the wildfires. With over 2,500 wildland firefighters, including personnel from partner agencies across Canada, the United States, and the Canadian Armed Forces, the province is sparing no effort in extinguishing the blaze. The firefighting workforce is supported by 165 helicopters, 31 fixed-wing aircraft, and heavy equipment deployed strategically across affected areas. Furthermore, additional personnel are being dispatched from Ontario and New Brunswick to reinforce the firefighting operations.
Acknowledging the immense strain on local municipalities, First Nations, and Metis Settlements, the Alberta government provides additional financial support to compensate volunteer firefighters who cannot leave their regular jobs to join or continue firefighting efforts. This initiative aims to enhance the province’s response capacity, improve public safety, and assist affected communities during this unprecedented wildfire season.
To assist evacuees, the government has implemented one-time emergency financial assistance. The response has been significant, with over 10,400 applications processed thus far. Over $15.8 million in e-transfers and $3.3 million in debit cards have been distributed to evacuees. Debit cards are available at 16 Alberta Supports Centre locations with extended hours and at evacuation centers in Edmonton and Calgary. These measures aim to alleviate evacuees’ financial burden and provide immediate assistance during their displacement.
Albertans who wish to contribute to the relief efforts can donate cash through the Canadian Red Cross or to recognized charitable organizations within their regions. The Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta have pledged to match every dollar donated to the Canadian Red Cross 2023 Alberta Fires Appeal, effectively tripling the impact of each contribution.