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

Northwest Wave Riders return from Victoria Dragon Boat Festival

This was the first time in 25 years that northern B.C. teams competed

Feds approve $4M for Tahltan protected and conserved areas

Well defined stewardship will help nation reduce uncertainties for resource partners

BC Parks student rangers complete several northwest B.C. conservation projects

This was the first time the summer program operated out of Terrace

Australian gold mining giant acquires Red Chris mine

Newcrest now owns 70 per cent of the mine south of Iskut and operatorship

All Nations Driving Academy gets $360K boost from province

Terrace-based driving school bridges gap in services for remote northwest B.C. communities

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

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Cross-examination begins for B.C. dad accused of killing young daughters

Andrew Berry is charged in the deaths of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey in 2017

Dog attacked by river otters, Penticton owner says

Marie Fletcher says her dog was pulled underwater by four river otters in the Penticton Channel

BC SPCA overwhelmed with cats, kittens needing homes

Large number of cruelty investigations, plus normal ‘kitten season’ to blame

B.C. Hydro applies for rare cut in electricity rates next year

Province wrote off $1.1 billion debt to help reverse rate increase

Speculation tax forces sale of Greater Victoria’s iconic ‘Tulip House’

Bob and Jan Fleming selling their retirement home famous for its thousands of tulips

Most Read