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  • Writer's pictureLorna Hamilton

Alberta Declares A Provincial State Of Emergency

Updated: May 17, 2023


A fire south of Vermilion, west of Hwy. 41 and Township Rd 471 on May 5th. Photo Sue Chikie

As the ever-evolving fire situation in Alberta continues, so does the number of active fires. As of early morning on May 8 the province of Alberta was battling 109 active wildfires, 29 of which are classified as out of control. Of the remaining fires, 21 are being held and 59 are under control.

UCP Leader Danielle Smith declared a Provincial State of Emergency on May 6.

The hot, dry, and windy conditions in most areas of the province have made it easier for fires to start and spread, resulting in numerous evacuations and property damage. Approximately 29,000 individuals have been evacuated due to the fires as of May 7 with thousands more on evacuation alert.

To stay updated on the latest information and advisories, residents in affected areas are encouraged to follow local media, local municipalities, and Alberta Emergency Alerts (emergency.alberta.ca). The Alberta Emergency Alert mobile app is available for download and immediately pushes all alerts out to subscribers. Detailed information is available on emergency.alberta.ca, which is updated frequently.

Several highways and roads in the affected areas have also been closed due to smoke. For details on closures, visit 511.alberta.ca.

The County of Vermilion Fire Departments have also been busy fighting wildland fires and Vermilion River County Fire Chief Kirk Hughes noted that they have had an unprecedented number of fire calls so far this fire season.

“It’s been non-stop for the last 10-15 days or so and we have been called out to approximately 36 wildland fires (on top of other fire calls, accidents, etc.), with the majority of them being caused by ambers from previous burn pits in the fall and the very dry, hot and windy weather. Some volunteers have racked up over 40 hours of ground time actioning fires. We are beyond lucky to have such dedicated professionals willing to sacrifice their time to battle these threats.”

Hughes also said, “Wildfires haven’t abated across the region over the last few days. County Firefighters responded on Friday south of Highway #619 which resulted in tones dropping to Paradise Valley Fire Department, Kitscoty Fire Department, Islay, and Vermilion Fire & Rescue Society.”

As for the fires burning provincially Hughes said the County fire departments are on standby in case they need help and that they will send firefighters and equipment to those areas if requested.

As a result of numerous fires currently burning and the weather conditions, the entire province is under a fire ban, and no open burning is allowed. Alberta Parks and many municipalities and communities have ordered their own bans and restrictions. For more information you can visit Albertafirebans.ca.

Hughes also noted that they haven’t had any fires caused by human error.

“We will be watching the causes and if we see any being caused by human error such as fire pits we will be implementing a complete fire ban, and the partial fire ban currently in place can change at any moment. If you see smoke call 9-1-1.”

Alberta’s wildfire situation is a reminder of the importance of being prepared for emergencies and following the advice of emergency responders. Stay safe, stay informed, and do your part to prevent wildfires.

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