Air quality statements remain in place across Western Canada as wildfires rage
May 18, 2023
By The Canadian Press
By Kelly Geraldine Malone and Angela Amato
Air quality statements continue to blanket much of British Columbia and the Prairie provinces as scores of wildfires rage across the region.
More than 19,500 people in Alberta had been forced from their homes as of Tuesday evening. Ninety-one active wildfires were burning in the province, with 27 listed as out of control.
People forced to flee two weeks ago from the Drayton Valley area 145 kilometres southwest of Edmonton have been allowed to return.
“It’s a huge relief, and we’re just so thankful that our home is still standing and that everyone is OK,” said Jade Verheul, who had to quickly leave with her children on May 4.
Verheul said she was lucky to have a place to go, because her parents have an RV lot in Seba Beach, west of Edmonton.
She knows, however, that not all her neighbours have a home to go back to.
“Our hearts go out to all the people that had to be away from their families during this stressful time to help fight the fires,” Verheul said in a message.
There are about 2,500 people battling wildfires in Alberta, including 300 soldiers.
Reservists trudged through smouldering trees near Drayton Valley on Tuesday before officials partially lifted an evacuation order. Dressed in yellow jumpsuits with bright blue safety helmets, they walked through trees, some reduced to matchsticks.
Meanwhile, the northeast British Columbia city of Fort St. John, with a population of about 21,000, remained under an evacuation alert in response to a wildfire more than 130 square kilometres in size.
The BC Wildfire Service said hotter conditions could arrive Wednesday, along with a problematic wind shift.
In the Northwest Territories, the K’atl’odeeche First Nation and town of Hay River, about 120 kilometres from the Alberta boundary, remained under evacuation orders.
There were also 27 active wildfires in Saskatchewan as of late Tuesday.
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