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Wood Buffalo welcomes N.W.T. wildfire evacuees

Last Updated Aug 15, 2023 at 3:04 pm MDT

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces are set to be mobilized in the Northwest Territories today as wildfires threaten communities, including the capital, and hundreds of people have been airlifted to safety. The Northwest Territories provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday July 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Wood Buffalo has opened its doors to hundreds of evacuees from the Northwest Territories as wildfires rip through widespread communities.

In a statement, the Regional Municipality said over 260 residents from the N.W.T. have arrived since Aug. 14, 2023.

“The municipality is working in collaboration with the Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre in support of the evacuees and is providing temporary accommodations at hotels in Fort McMurray.”

The RMWB added a temporary registration center has been set up at the Clearwater Hotel.

Additional directives for registering evacuees have been listed on the Municipality’s website.

On Aug. 12, the Municipality announced an evacuation order for the community of Fort Fitzgerald.

A screenshot of a detailed map showing the wildfire situation for communities along the Alberta-NWT boundary, including Fort Fitzgerald, Alta., and Fort Smith, N.W.T., as of Aug. 14, 2023. Image supplied by Alberta Wildfire.

The order coincided with a similar order issued for N.W.T. communities like Fort Smith and Smith’s Landing First Nation.

The RMWB said it’s not accepting donations such clothing, toiletries, or non-perishable food items at this time.

However, the United Way NWT has launched a fundraising campaign to support evacuees.

Wildfire response

Members of the Canadian Forces are being deployed to help deal with wildfires along the border between Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

A National Defence spokeswoman says a reconnaissance team was on the ground in Hay River, situated along the south shore of Great Slave Lake.

The size of the team wasn’t immediately known, nor was what equipment or capabilities they were bringing with them.

Hay River was the second area community ordered to evacuate to safety on the evening of Aug. 13 due to encroaching wildfires, which were about 60 kilometers away at the time.

An update on Hay River’s Facebook page said a fire was preventing outbound vehicle traffic and directed residents to instead go to the town’s airport for evacuation by air.

215 people were flown from Hay River to Grande Prairie, Alta., while health-care patients were transported via other flight services to Yellowknife and Fort McMurray.

Hay River is home to about 3,500 people.

With files from The Canadian Press