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

‘I feel free’ says mother of Mission murder victim after daughter’s belongings returned

After 11 years, Rosemarie Surakka said she feels like it is 99.9 per cent over

PHOTOS: National Indigenous Peoples Day in Mission

Friday’s celebration at Fraser River Heritage Park featured food, dancing, drumming and more

RCMP surround Maple Ridge house, make arrest

Man leaves home as canine team brought in.

Wildfire threatens weekend campers at Chehalis Lake

The fire started on the north side of Chehalis Lake Saturday

Fraser Valley author launches second crime novel

Seamus Heffernan releases book Ten Grand on June 27 in Abbotsford

Video shows fireworks shot at swan in Alberta

Alberta Fish and Wildlife is investigating the incident in Grande Prairie

Grey-haired bank robber hit with dye pack in Langley heist

Police are looking for an older man who may be stained with dye

‘Text neck’ causing bone spurs to grow from millennials’ skulls, researchers say

Technology use from early childhood causing abnormal bone growths in 41 per cent of young adults

B.C. teen killed by fallen tree on field trip remembered as hero

13-year-old Tai Caverhill was the first to spot the tree falling and warned his friends

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

Should B.C. get rid of Daylight Saving Time?

The province wants to know, as state governments down south make the move

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Canadians crash out of Women’s World Cup in 0-1 loss to Sweden

Canada missed a chance to tie the game on a penalty shot

Four-year-old boy assaulted at B.C. soccer game

It happened at a weekend tournament in Ashcroft

Most Read