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Evacuation Orders Issued for Wildfires in Alberta and British Columbia

Several communities in Northern Alberta and British Columbia have been evacuated due to wildfires in the area that present a risk to lives and property.

Residents in Grande Prairie County have been told to evacuate due to a wildfire that is four kilometres east of Teepee Creek, around Range Road 31 and Township Road 740, according to a May 10 notice on social media.

Evacuees have been advised to head north to Grande Prairie and register at the Pomeroy Hotel and Conference Centre.

“Bring pets, important documents, medication, medical devices, food and water to be away from your home for 7 days,” the order said.

An evacuation order has also been issued for those living in the municipal district of Greenview, which is about 390 kilometres northwest of Edmonton. Wildfire GCU-007 is posing a threat and has jumped the Smokey River, according to an online advisory.

Residents in the affected area have been advised to head to the Paradise Inn in Valleyview and told to be prepared to be away from home for at least three days.

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An evacuation alert was issued for Fort McMurray, Alberta, on May 10. It’s an area that was hard hit by wildfires in 2016, something that the Canadian government has called the “most expensive natural disaster in the history of Canada.”

Residents of the area have been warned that wildfire MWF-017 is about 25 kilometres southwest. They have been advised to be ready to evacuate on short notice.

As of May 11, Alberta had 46 active fires burning, with two being dubbed “wildfires of note,” including MWF-017, which has been classified as out of control, according to a May 11 update.

“Fire behaviour is expected to pick up this morning with increased winds until the afternoon,” the update said.

Five crews have been called in to battle the blaze, including nine helicopters and air tankers.

The government said fire GCU-007 is expected to be “active” but winds should slow the fire’s spread.

Fire crews will battle the fire on the ground, the notice said.

Northern BC Evacuations

Across the border, the government of British Columbia issued an evacuation order on May 9 for the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality. It has since been expanded to include the Town of Fort Nelson, and Fort Nelson First Nation.

Residents have been advised to evacuate immediately and head to the North Peace Arena in Fort St. John.

BC Wildfire Service said the fire threatening the community, the Parker Fire, reached nearly 17 square kilometres in size on May 11. That is almost double the eight square kilometres reported on May 10.

That fire is expected to have been caused by human activity, the BC Wildfire Service said.

An alert has been issued for the regional district of Fraster-Fort George due to a wildfire in Crescent Spur. Those living in the area are advised to be ready to leave on short notice.

Environment Canada issued air quality alerts for several parts of Alberta, including the City of Edmonton. Residents were advised to “reduce or reschedule strenuous activities outdoors.”

“Over northwestern Alberta conditions are likely to remain poor through Monday or possibly Tuesday,” Environment Canada said.

Air quality alerts were also issued as far away as Saskatchewan due to wildfire smoke.

On May 11, a special alert was issued for cities including Saskatoon and Prince Albert.

“A plume of wildfire smoke is spreading southwards through Saskatchewan today. This band will bring 4 to 8 hours of poor air quality and reduced visibility as the smoke moves through,” Environment Canada said in the alert.

Conditions are expected to improve throughout the weekend. Those in the affected areas have been advised to be cautious and reduce exposure to wildfire smoke as it can be harmful, even in low concentrations.

‘Catastrophic’ Wildfire Season Forecasted

The federal government has forecasted another “catastrophic” wildfire season, with higher-than-normal spring and summer temperatures expected.
“It is likely to be a very bad forest fire season,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a meeting of fire chiefs in West Kelowna on May 10.
“People are worried about what the summer might bring. People are worried what the future might hold,” he said.

The 2023 wildfire season saw over 6,600 blazes burning through 15 million hectares. Eight firefighters died and 230,000 people were evacuated from their homes.

The Candian Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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