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Alberta declares state of emergency due to wildfires

Last Updated May 8, 2023 at 11:15 am MDT

According to Alberta Wildfire, Dry grass can catch easily and burn quickly. Use caution when working outdoors! Last year, 67% of wildfires were human-caused. (Photo: Alberta Wildfire via Twitter)

Alberta has declared a provincial state of emergency due to the ongoing wildfire situation.

Danielle Smith provided the update Saturday at 5 p.m. following the meeting of the Emergency Cabinet committee.

The Alberta Emergency Management agency has moved from a level 3 to a level 4, meaning it’s fully staffed and on alert.

Smith says the provincial state of emergency allows for a higher lever of intergovernmental coordination, accessing discretionary funds and mobilizing supports. She adds the safety of Albertans is a priority.

Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis adds all Albertans should be prepared in case of evacuation.

There were 110 active wildfires in Alberta as of 5:20 p.m. Saturday, according to Alberta Wildfire.

More than 24,000 Albertans have been evacuated from their homes.

Some buildings have been destroyed, including 20 homes, a police station and a store in Fox Lake in northern Alberta.

Smith says she doesn’t know if some of the fires are being deliberately set, but believes many are human caused.

In Saturday’s earlier update, Smith called the wildfires a “rapidly evolving situation.”

“Much of Alberta has been experiencing a hot dry spring … All it takes is a few sparks to ignite some truly frightening wildfires. These conditions have resulted in the unprecedented situation our province is facing today, our firefighters and first responders are doing an incredible job and we are grateful to them and to municipal governments for their leadership in this very challenging situation,” said Smith.

“In total, we have seen 24,511 Albertans evacuated from their homes to ensure their safety,” said Smith. “There’s also roughly 5,200 additional Albertans that are under an evacuation alert.”

Smith stressed the province has the resources and the right tools to tackle the situation.

“I have asked the deputy ministers to put together and to make record recommendations on all possible options including declaring a provincial state of emergency. I know that all of this is difficult for Albertans, especially those who’ve been directly affected by these wildfires,” she said.

“I want to assure everyone that our province has the right tools, the right technology and the right resources in place to tackle this challenge, and people will get the supports that they need. We have seen our firefighters and first responders bravely step up as they always do. Municipal leadership in all affected communities and their neighboring towns and cities have also stepped up, and Albertans are lending a helping hand to their neighbors because that’s what we do as Albertans — we are strong and resilient.”


Ellis adds it is important for Albertans to prepare “things like 72 hours worth of food and water, critical documents, first aid kit, medication” whether they’re close to an area that is currently impacted or not.

Smith also said that the federal government is on “standby” to help.

“Mr. Ellis has already spoken with his counterpart Bill Blair, and we will absolutely use their resources if our officials have asked us to do so. So we want to maintain open lines of communication and make sure that we’re getting the resources where they’re needed,” Smith added.

Anyone affected by the wildfire is asked to call the wildfire resource line at 3104455 or visit alberta.ca for more information and updates.

—With files from Courtney Theriault and Toula Mazloum