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

Prince Rupert’s ferry issue is a North Coast issue, MLA Rice

Prince Rupert not alone in fight to save ferry to Ketchikan: Alaskan Rep. Ortiz

First Nations given max compensation for Ottawa’s child-welfare discrimination

2016 ruling said feds didn’t give same funding for on-reserve kids as was given to off-reserve kids

Power restored to 120,000 customers after northern B.C. transmission failure

Lightning is suspected to be the cause of the outage, says BC Hydro

Nuxalk Nation installs traditional stop signs

The signs are intended to encourage daily use of the language

Malakai Andy sets sail to Junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers hockey team

Andy is from the Nuxalk Nation and Williams Lake Indian Band

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Coming Home: B.C. fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Newcomer Ferland lines up with sniper Pettersson as Vancouver Canucks camp opens

Ferland provides more depth and a scoring threat up front, Pettersson says

Intelligence official charged seemed to be ‘exemplar of discretion’: UBC professor

Professor Paul Evans says he served on Cameron Ortis’s doctoral dissertation committee

B.C. company gets licence to test psychedelic drugs for therapy treatment

Salvation Botanicals interested in manufacturing, testing and research and development

Most Read