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Scores Evacuated As Wildfires Burn Nearly 1 Million Acres in Western Canada

Scores Evacuated As Wildfires Burn Nearly 1 Million Acres in Western Canada

Over the weekend, light rain and milder temperatures offered much-needed respite to Alberta, where almost 30,000 people had been forced to leave.

A change in weather gave much-needed relief to firefighters in Western Canada, where wildfires have scorched almost 964,000 acres since they began more than a week ago, damaging scores of properties and forcing nearly 30,000 Alberta people to leave.

Cooler temperatures and light, scattered showers allowed firefighters to reach wildfires that they had been unable to access “due to extreme wildfire behavior” over the weekend, according to Christie Tucker, an information officer with Alberta Wildfire, a firefighting agency, at a news conference on Sunday.

Officials expect the weather to continue to work in their favor over the next few days, with cooler temperatures in the forecast as well as higher humidity in southern and central Alberta. But in the north, firefighters “will continue to be challenged” with dry conditions, Ms. Tucker said.

“People have called this season certainly unprecedented in recent memory because we have so many fires so spread out,” Ms. Tucker said. “It’s been an unusual year.”

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Alberta declared a state of emergency on Saturday as more than 110 wildfires burned across the province. That number had dwindled, but only slightly, by Monday afternoon, when there were 98 active wildfires in the province. Parts of Yellowhead, Big Lakes and Lac Ste. Anne Counties were still under evacuation orders on Monday.

Ms. Tucker stated that firefighters from Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia arrived in Alberta on Sunday to help combat the flames. She stated that firefighters in Alberta prioritize vulnerable towns and the threat of loss of life, citing the fires in Edson, Grizzly Complex, Deep Creek Complex, and Fox Lake.

Residents who have been forced to flee will be eligible for financial help beginning on Tuesday, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith announced during a press conference on Monday afternoon.

Each adult who has been evacuated and displaced for seven days in a row will get $1,250, plus $500 for each dependant under the age of 18.

Colin Blair, executive director of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency, stated during a press conference on Sunday that around 5,000 individuals had gone through evacuation centers. While some people are starting to come home, others may have to wait even longer.

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Ms. Smith said about 300 patients and long-term care residents had been evacuated from Alberta Health Services locations as of Monday morning.

According to Mike Ellis, Alberta’s minister of public safety and emergency services, more than 50 schools were shuttered as of Monday morning, affecting over 10,000 children.

Mr. Ellis advised all Albertans to be prepared to evacuate, regardless of whether they were in imminent danger.

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