Alberta wildfires continue to force evacuations, cover province with haze

Wildfire consumes forest in northern Alberta. Photo courtesy of Alberta Government.

By Thomas I. Likness
EBC Edmonton Bureau

EDMONTON (Eagle News) – A sense of déjà vu hangs over the northern Alberta town of Slave Lake as the provincial government has issued an evacuation alert for the community as wildfires continue to consume the region’s forests.

Eight years ago the town’s 7,000 residents had to leave as a raging inferno destroyed about one-third of the community’s homes.

Residents were told Thursday to be prepared to leave on eight hours notice.

“The town is not in imminent danger,” the alert reads. “However residents should be prepared to evacuate on short notice.”

The government is telling people to fuel their vehicles and gather up their medications or prescriptions, drinking water and food.

As well, they should bring identification, passports, insurance policies and other important documents.

People with pets should also make arrangements for their animals.

Slave Lake is one of the communities hosting people who had to flee their homes because of a fire in High Level, which is about six hours north.

There had been hope that those people could start returning home on the weekend but those plans have been dashed for now.

Meanwhile, most of the northern part of Alberta is covered in a smoky haze as wildfires continue to scorch the region’s forests.

In the Alberta capital of Edmonton, visibility in some parts of the city was reduced to about one city block Thursday evening.

Environment Canada says air quality is poor.

Alberta Health says people may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath.

Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk.

The department advises people to stay inside if they have breathing difficulties.

Photo by Thomas I. Likness, EBC Edmonton Bureau, Eagle News Service.
Smoky haze from wildfires several hundred kilometres away hangs over the Alberta capital city of Edmonton. Photo by Thomas I. Likness, EBC Edmonton Bureau, Eagle News Service.

(Eagle News Service)