Emergency funds for High Level, Alta. evacuees to start flowing by Monday

About 5,000 people in High Level and surrounding communities have been out of their homes for a week

Officials say wildfire evacuees in northwestern Alberta should not expect to return until at least next week and that provincial emergency funds for gas, food and other expenses should be available by Monday.

About 5,000 people in High Level and surrounding communities have been out of their homes since the long weekend, as the Chuckegg Creek fire rages three kilometres outside the town. As of Friday, the blaze covered nearly 993 square kilometres.

Winds from the northeast were blowing the fire away from the community. But Shane Schreiber with the Alberta Emergency Management Agency said they’re expected to switch direction on Sunday.

Schreiber told reporters the earliest evacuees could return is Tuesday, but it will probably be longer.

“The fire will have to progress to the point where it will no longer pose an imminent threat to the community,” he said Friday.

Firefighters have completed successful controlled burns and bulldozed containment lines to remove fuel for the blaze.

Within the town, sprinklers are at the ready and flammable debris has been removed.

“We are not out of the woods. We are watching the weather very, very closely this weekend,” said Alberta Wildfire spokeswoman Christie Tucker.

“We’ve taken advantage of an even keel of weather for the past few days in order to get some good work done. So that when the wind does change direction, hopefully we’ll be able to fight it as well as we can.”

Alberta’s municipal affairs minister said emergency funds should be available to the fire evacuees by Monday.

Kaycee Madu said every adult will get $1,250 with another $500 for each dependent child. Evacuees from the Fort McMurray fire in 2016 and the Slave Lake fire in 2011 got the same amount.

“We know this is a stressful time for you. You have been away from your homes for several days now,” Madu said. “And that is tremendously difficult physically, mentally, emotionally and financially.”

Evacuees can start applying for electronic transfers at noon on Sunday, but it may take a day for funds to appear in their accounts, Madu said. Pre-loaded debit cards for those unable to receive e-transfers can be picked up at reception centres on Monday.

High Level mayor Crystal McAteer had urged the provincial government to move quickly on emergency aid because vulnerable people were without funds.

“We’re not as affluent as other communities and some of our most vulnerable people are out there right now without funds,” she said Thursday.

Firefighters from British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories and Prince Edward Island have arrived to help fight the Chuckegg fire and others burning in Alberta. More are arriving Friday from Ontario, Tucker said.

There are now 360 wildland firefighters in the bush, while 154 are in the town working to protect buildings there.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Burns Lake local events

Garden Fresh Nutrition Workshop Jess Hart, Holistic Nutritionist, will lead a garden… Continue reading

Masked bandit spotted in Burns Lake

A raccoon was found dead on Highway 16, about three kilometres east… Continue reading

Pave the way for Burns Lake

Labourers work on the downtown portion of the Highway 16 repaving project.… Continue reading

Men charged with assault on Southside

Two men face charges following a violent incident on the Southside on… Continue reading

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

B.C. man on trial for daughters’ murders says an intruder broke in

Andrew Berry takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

‘Plenty of time for a deal’: Teachers’ union expects kids back in school on Sept. 3

BCTF says class size, composition at the heart of the issue

Province funds new shuttle buses for 13 B.C. senior centres

Activity, socializing helps maintain health, Adrian Dix says

Most Read