Alberta is asking for help from the military to fight wildfires

  • Written by Nadine Youssef
  • BBC News, Toronto

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Watch: Albertans flee bushfires with newborns

Alberta has requested military assistance from the Canadian federal government as it battles “unprecedented” wildfires.

Nearly 30,000 people have been asked to evacuate their homes.

The county declared a state of emergency on Saturday with more than 110 active wildfires.

More than 50 schools closed Monday morning, affecting more than 10,000 students, said Mike Ellis, Alberta’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services.

Evacuation orders Issued Monday is still in effect Tuesday in parts of Yellowhead County, in central Alberta.

Evacuation orders were lifted in other areas as scattered rain and light winds put out the fires.

About 964,000 acres have burned since the wildfire broke out more than a week ago.

In northern Alberta, more than 80 homes were destroyed in rural areas including Fox Lake, John Door Prairie and Garden River, according to The Globe and Mail. More than 3,700 residents of the area have been evacuated.

“It (the fire) was very far away from us, from where we live, but we saw all the smoke coming out and it was getting worse as time went on,” resident Johnette Bliss told the Calgary Sun.

Some residents in Fox Lake, the very remote area where Mrs. Bliss lives, have been forced to evacuate by river barge.

On Monday, Alberta’s premier, Danielle Smith, said she had spoken with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and requested additional help, including military support, from the federal government.

“Prime Minister Trudeau has confirmed that the military will be sent in to assist if required,” Ms Smith told a news conference.

It was a “challenging time” for the county, she added, as firefighters battled the flames while residents and hospitalized patients were evacuated from affected areas.

“Tens of thousands of people have been forced out of their homes and jobs, leaving behind everything they owned, wondering if they will lose everything they worked for,” she said.

Ms Smith said her province would pay emergency financial assistance of C$1,250 ($934; £740) to any adult forced to evacuate for more than seven days, as well as C$500 to each dependent under the age of 18.

Firefighters from other provinces, including Quebec and Ontario, have flown into Alberta to help fight the fires.

The fires spread across the western and northern portion of Prairie County, engulfing several areas along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

The hardest-hit areas include Drayton Valley, about 140 kilometers (87 miles) west of the provincial capital Edmonton, and Fox Lake, about 550 kilometers north of the city, where 20 homes and a police station were gutted by the flames.

However, some Albertans were allowed to return home Monday as evacuation orders were lifted in a few areas.

Alberta is a major oil producing region in Canada, and the fires have caused some oil and natural gas wells and pipeline systems to shut down.

Canadian natural gas exports to the United States fell to 6.7 billion cubic feet per day on Sunday, the lowest level since April 2021, according to data compiled by financial data firm Refinitiv.

Some residents have also evacuated in Alberta’s neighboring provinces, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, as the provinces battle their own wildfires.

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