Gateway Gazette

Update 8: Northwest Alberta Wildfire (May 29 at 6 p.m.)

*A new wildfire entered the MD of Opportunity overnight and a mandatory evacuation order was issued for Chipewyan Lake Village. Evacuees must register at the reception centre set up at Calling Lake Community Centre*

Cabinet briefed on current wildfire situation: 2300 personnel, 200 helicopters, 150 pieces of heavy equipment, and 27 air tankers are deployed.

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Wildfire battles continues as re-entry planning moves forward. To date, the province has provided more than $6 million in one-time, emergency support payments to evacuees.

Current situation

  • Chuckegg Creek Wildfire is burning approximately three kilometres southwest of the Town of High Level in Mackenzie County.
  • This out-of-control wildfire has grown to more than 150,000 hectares.
  • Resources on the ground include about 390 wildland firefighters and staff, 28 helicopters and heavy equipment.
  • Cabinet approved two orders in council to release funds to cover emergency response including structural firefighting efforts, evacuation costs, reception centre costs, and recovery costs as well as fire prevention, suppression, reclamation and reforestation costs.
  • Parts of northern Alberta remain under a special air quality advisory.
  • New mandatory evacuations have been issued for:
    • La Crete Ferry Campground
    • Steen River
    • Hawk Hills
    • Keg River
    • Carcajou
    • Residents living between Township Road 922 and north to Northern Lights County.
  • Residents should check Alberta Emergency Alerts for details.
  • Officials are preparing for residents to re-enter High Level once public safety has been confirmed.
  • Visit emergency.alberta.ca for detailed and frequently updated information.

Financial supports

  • You may qualify for the evacuation payment if you were:
    • living, working or vacationing in the affected area
    • forced to leave due to an evacuation order
    • paid for most of your costs to evacuate
  • Albertans who qualify will receive $1,250 for each adult and $500 for each dependent child.
  • Applications are open:
    • Apply online through the MyAlberta Evacuation Payment application using a smart phone, device or desktop. Interac e-transfers may take 24 hours to process.
    • Apply inperson at any Alberta Supports Centre in Alberta.
    • Evacuees in La Crete and Fort Vermillion can apply in person at La Crete Heritage Centre (25411 Township Road 1060, south of La Crete) or Fort Vermilion Community Cultural Complex (5001 44 Avenue)
    • If you require assistance registering, call 310-4455
    • If you’re having technical issues, contact My Alberta Digital ID at 1-844-643-2789 (Monday to Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)

Reception and call centres

  • Reception centres are open at:
    • Slave Lake Legacy Centre (400 6 Avenue NE)
    • High Prairie Gordon Buchanan Centre (5413 49 Street)
    • Grande Prairie Regional College (10726 106 Avenue)
    • Peace River Misery Mountain Ski Hill (10408 89 Street)
    • La Crete Heritage Centre (25411 Township Road 1060, south of La Crete)
    • Fort Vermilion Community Cultural Complex (5001 44 Avenue)
    • Dene Wellness Centre (In K’atl’ Odeeche First Nation, 17 kilometres east of Hay River)
  • Hours of operation for evacuation reception centres can be found at emergency.alberta.ca.
  • 310-4455 call centre hours are extended until Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Highway closures

  • Highway 35 is open between High Level and the Zama City turnoff. Travel is not permitted north of the Zama City turnoff.
  • Highway 35 is closed between approximately five km south of High Level and five km north of Highway 695 (Keg River turnoff). Access to Keg River remains open.
  • Highway 697 is closed between Highway 35 and Range Road 185, east of the La Crete Ferry.
  • The La Crete Ferry is closed.
  • Northbound travelers from the Peace River area should detour using Highway 986 to Highway 88.
  • Highway 58 remains closed between High Level and approximately 90 km west, at the junction of Range Road 45A (south of Chateh).
  • To stay informed on all road closure info visit 511.Alberta.ca  or download the mobile app.

Insurance information

  • Evacuated residents should retain all their receipts for food purchases, accommodation and other related expenses to provide to their insurer for possible reimbursement.
  • Most home and tenant’s insurance policies provide reasonable coverage for living expenses during an evacuation. Contact your insurance company for details.
  • Albertans who cannot remember or reach their insurance provider, can contact the Insurance Bureau of Canada at 1-844-227-5422 or by email at askibcwest@ibc.ca. Information to understand your fire insurance coverage is online at ibc.ca/ab/disaster/alberta-wildfire.

Justice and legal matters

  • Sittings scheduled for Wabasca Desmarais Court on Thursday, May 30 will be heard in High Prairie Court. 
  • High Level Court is closed. Call the Peace River Court at 780-624-6256 for inquiries on High Level Court matters scheduled for this week and next. All scheduled Fort Vermilion matters will be heard in Peace River. Call the Peace River Court at 780-624-6256 if you’re unable to register your name and phone number. Matters will be held by phone if necessary.
  • In many cases, tickets can be paid online. For any other inquiries requiring direction from the court about Peace River and Fort Vermilion court matters, call the Peace River Court at 780-624-6256.
  • If you have an appointment with a probation officer in an evacuated area, report to the community corrections office nearest you. If you do not know where the nearest one is, call 780-427-3109 (to call toll free, first dial 310-0000).
  • If you are an intermittent server in an evacuated area, call the Peace River Correctional Centre at 780-624-5480 (to call toll-free, first dial 310-0000) for direction.

Education

  • Grade 12 students in the High Level area are eligible for an exemption from their diploma exam. When a student is exempt from the diploma exam, their classroom mark will be their final mark.
  • These students could also write the exam if they choose to do so and can safely make it to a school, either in their community or another. Students can also defer writing the diploma exams to August.
  • For grades 6 and 9 provincial achievement tests, students can be excused from writing. Alternately, these students could write the tests if they can safely make it to a school, either in their community or another.
  • Once students and their families have made a decision, they should contact their school division.

Air quality

  • Much of northern Alberta is under a special air quality statement.
  • Smoke from wildfires in northern Alberta is causing poor air quality and reducing visibility.
  • Alberta Wildfire recommends checking FireSmoke.ca to find out where the smoke is coming from.

Boil water advisory

  • Boil water advisories remain in place for Meander River (Dene Tha’ First Nation)  and North Tall Cree (Little Red River Cree Nation). Although power has been restored, the boil water advisories will remain in place until water testing is complete.

Health

  • Mental health support is available by calling Alberta’s 24-hour Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642.
  • Alberta Health Services is providing supports to the receptions centres. These supports include addiction and mental health, indigenous health liaisons, nursing, emergency medical services, public health, home care and more.

Pets and livestock

  • Animal Control are collecting household pets that have been left behind. Pets will be moved to a safe and secure location outside of the Town of High Level. Contact 780-926-2201.
  • Mackenzie County has stock trailers to assist with livestock transport. Visit highlevel.ca for more information.

Donations and volunteers

Canada Post

  • Canada Post has suspended mail delivery services in the communities of High Level, Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement, Meander River, Chateh and Keg River.
  • Mail will be held at the Edmonton depot until mail service resumes.
  • Check the Canada Post website for updates.

Income Support, Alberta Supports and AISH

  • Residents receiving benefits from the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) or the Income Support program by cheque rather than electronic deposit, and who are affected by the wildfire in High Level, can visit their nearest Alberta Supports Centre to pick up their cheque.
  • If you are in La Crete, you can pick up your cheque at the local reception centre. If you receive your benefits via direct deposit, your payment will be deposited as usual.
  • For information on child intervention and child care, residents may contact 1-800-638-0715.
  • If persons with developmental disabilities, their families or contracted service providers need human, financial, or in-kind assistance to connect with loved ones, find accommodations or provide assistance to individuals receiving PDD supports, please contact the nearest Alberta Supports Centre for assistance at 1-800-232-7215 province-wide between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m., Monday to Friday. 
  • For additional information on social benefits, affected individuals can contact Alberta Supports or call 1-877-644-9992, Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Employment insurance: evacuees can visit Service Canada online to apply at canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei.html. Use code 4812014812201900.

Health card, driver’s licences, ID cards, birth certificate

  • To get a replacement Health Care Insurance Card at no cost, you can contact 780-427-1432 or toll free at 310-0000 and then 780-427-1432 when prompted. Your Alberta Personal Health Card can be mailed to a temporary address.  
  • If driver’s licences, ID cards, and/or birth certificates were left behind during the evacuation, replacement cards and certificates can be ordered free of charge at a registry agent. A list of registry locations can be found at alberta.ca/registry-agents

Public information

  • You can call 310-4455 for more information.

Aerial footage of the northwest wildfires

  • B-roll of the Chuckegg Creek fire in northwest Alberta, taken Sunday, May 26, can be downloaded here.

 

Backgrounder: Previous updates

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