As the heatwave continues to scorch the province, the danger of wildfires remains a significant concern for all of us in Alberta. With the fire danger level reaching extreme in many northern areas, the government has declared a provincial state of emergency. As of now, there are 89 active wildfires in the Forest Protection Area, out of which 25 are classified as out of control.
The province has taken several measures to contain the fires, including imposing a fire ban and an off-highway vehicle restriction across the Forest Protection Area. Alberta currently has over 1,500 wildland firefighters, 151 helicopters, 25 fixed-wing aircraft, and heavy equipment responding to the wildfires.
In addition to these measures, the government is working with local authorities in the County of Grande Prairie and the City of Grande Prairie to construct a fireguard around the city, and with the Municipal District of Greenview to establish a fireguard around Little Smoky and along Highway 43. Fireguards are barriers that are created by removing trees and other vegetation, essentially getting rid of the fuel for the fire.
To combat the wildfires, over 800 wildland firefighters have come from other provinces and countries, including the United States. The Canadian Armed Forces are also providing personnel, resources, and basic firefighting roles, as well as airlift resources for mobility and logistical tasks.
The government is also providing support for evacuees with one-time emergency financial assistance, with over 8,400 applications processed so far. Additionally, over $13.2 million in e-transfers and $2.2 million in debit cards have been distributed to evacuees.
The Alberta RCMP are patrolling and monitoring evacuated communities to minimize crime in affected areas. They are also using the RAVE Alert system to send tips about how to protect properties and updates on police activities in specific areas.
To support those affected by the wildfires, the Canadian Red Cross is accepting cash donations, which the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta will each match, making every $1 donated into $3 to help the cause.
For more information on the emergency and supports for evacuees, visit alberta.ca/emergency or call 310-4455, available 24/7.