Alberta Wildfires: Three new evacuation orders, more than 19,000 evacuees and no peak in sight

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Nearly 20,000 Albertans have been evacuated from their homes as wildfires continue to rage across the province with hot, dry conditions in the forecast for the foreseeable future.

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Provincial officials said the total number of evacuees has risen to 19,342 Sunday, up from 16,520 the Saturday. The additional 2,800 evacuees came from three new areas now under evacuation order, including Rainbow Lake, parts of Leduc County and Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation.

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“These are trying times, and the coming days may be quite difficult,” said Alberta Emergency Management Agency executive director Colin Blair. “We are all doing all we can to protect communities at risk, but Albertans need to remain vigilant and closely follow updates on their current wildfire situation.

Hot, dry conditions have led to what officials are calling an “unprecedented” early fire season in Alberta.

Alberta remains under a state of emergency with 19 additional states of local emergency, five band council resolutions and 14 evacuation orders in place Sunday, up from 10 on Saturday.

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Evacuees have been sent to nine reception centres. Most — about 15,000 — have registered since evacuating, which officials say will make it easier for them to access support and resources.

Alberta wildfire information officer Josee St-Onge said fire risk in the province remains “extreme.” Eighty-seven fires were active in the province Sunday, 24 of which are rated out of control. More than 521,000 hectares have burned so far this year, up from 470,000 on Saturday. 

St-Onge said the province’s south is expected to be at greater fire risk in the coming days. In the boreal forest in the north, temperatures in the high 20s with low humidity and winds gusting to 40 km/h will contribute to fire growth.

St-Onge said fire guards carved into the landscape, the “vast majority” of which were holding, had helped contain some of the fires. However, she made the remarks around 3 p.m. and cautioned Sunday’s peak burning period was still ahead.

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“Overall, our firefighters were able to hold their ground,” she said. “However, they will be challenged again today.”

It is still too soon to say when the province will see its peak fire activity, St-Onge added.

“From what we can tell from the conditions that are awaiting us, with hot and dry weather persisting, we are going to continue to be challenged. So we haven’t seen a peak yet. Conditions will remain hot and dry and windy in the coming days, so we’re expecting more challenging conditions as we progress in this heat event.”

More than 1,500 Alberta wild land firefighters were at work Sunday, alongside air tankers and helicopter crews. More than 800 firefighters from other agencies are tackling the blazes, including 200 recent arrivals from Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Washington, South Dakota and Colorado. The military is also involved.

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Blair urged Albertans to prepare emergency kits with medication, ID, pet supplies, cash, non-perishable food and other items should the need to evacuate arise. He also stressed the importance of respecting the fire ban and off-road vehicle ban.

Planners are prepared should fires in British Columbia or other provinces require resources be sent elsewhere, St-Onge added.

Up-to-date information on fires can be found online at, as well as on the Alberta Emergency Alert app.

Financial aid is available to evacuees who have been out of their homes for at least seven total days. Evacuees can apply using a verified account. As of Thursday, more than 6,500 applications have been received and $2 million in e-transfers has been sent out along with $77,000 in debit cards distributed.

Anyone who has evacuated between April 29 and June 29, who lost or left behind their driver’s licence, ID card or birth certificate will be able to replace these documents free of charge by visiting a registry agent office.

Every night at 7:30 p.m. the province is holding a telephone town hall for evacuees to ask questions and connect residents. Evacuees can call 1-833-380-0691 to participate.


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