Northern Alberta wildfire evacuees begin arriving at reception centre in Slave Lake
Hours after residents of High Level, Alta., and surrounding areas were issued an evacuation order because of a growing wildfire inching closer to their communities, people forced to flee began arriving at a reception centre in Slave Lake on Monday evening.
Slave Lake is one of two reception centres set up to help with the High Level evacuation, the other is in High Prairie.
Watch below: A wildfire has prompted an evacuation order for the northern Alberta town of High Level. Sarah Kraus has the latest.
Premier Jason Kenney tweeted Monday night that he had spoken with Crystal McAteer, the mayor of High Level, who told him the town had been successfully evacuated.
Shortly after 10 p.m., McAteer told Global News that 200 families had already registered at evacuation centres.
Tyler Warman, the mayor of Slave Lake told Global News that 200 hotel rooms have been made available for evacuees and that campgrounds were available to accommodate those fleeing the fires as well.
Warman said a local recreation centre could also be used to house up to another 1,200 people. He said there were still questions about how many people would be arriving in his town and when, and he noted the town as not ready to accept donations until a determination can be made as to what is needed.
“Having been through this before, obviously it brings back a lot of memories,” he said. “So far, it’s actually been overwhelming — lots of text messages and phone calls coming through from a variety of people.
“Everybody is wanting to help. Everybody is wanting to pitch in, saying, ‘I have a room ready. Who do you need me to feed or look after?'”
Warman said the town also has people looking after evacuees’ pets that are arriving.
“[I’m] really proud of our community and its people.”
According to Warman, a couple of wildfires are also burning north of that town but they didn’t seem to be “providing any close danger at this point.”
In 2011, a wildfire tore through Slave Lake and devastated that community. The mayor had advice for evacuees forced to leave the High Level area on Monday.
“Having gone through this before, I would say be patient,” he said. “Information changes rapidly [and] don’t believe everything you hear. Stick to one source of information and just know that if there was ever a time to lean on your friends and neighbours, this is it.
“I can tell you the Town of Slave Lake is your friend and your neighbour.”