Northern Alberta wildfire forces thousands from homes

By Thomas I. Likness
EBC Edmonton Bureau

(Eagle News) — About five-thousand residents of a northern Alberta town have been ordered out of their homes as flames from an out-of-control wildfire threaten the community.

Evacuation centers have been set up in several communities to give temporary shelter to those who fled with little more than the clothes on their back.

Many others are staying with relatives.

Premier Jason Kenney told a news conference Tuesday that the provincial government will provide those people help if the evacuation lasts longer than three days.

Kenney says so far, no homes have been destroyed and there are no reports of injuries.

The blaze has come to within five kilometres of the town.

Farmers whose land is affected will be provided with stock trailers if they need help to move their livestock out of the area.

Power and cell phone service to the region has been interrupted and crews are working to restore it.

Kenney says the wildfire is jumping from treetop to treetop and he warns the situation will get worse.

“Unfortunately, the dry conditions in northern Alberta are expected to continue for the foreseeable future, with the fire danger possibly increasing this week,” said Kenney.

Looking ahead, Kenney expects fire crews to have a busy summer.

“Wildfire season is a long and tough battle every year, and we need to prepare for the long haul this summer,” Kenney said.

He adds people are to blame for most of the fires forest fires in the province.

“Officials believe that most of these fires are likely caused by human activity,” he said.

And the premier has some advice for the province’s residents.

“Let me remind all Alberta to follow local fire bans and to not discard cigarettes from moving vehicles,” said Kenney.

There are about 30 active wildfires scorching Alberta forests. Six of them are out of control.

(Eagle News Service)