Alberta declares state of emergency as wildfires rage

Alberta declares state of emergency as wildfires rage

The province of Alberta has declared a state of emergency after tens of thousands of people have been forced from their homes in recent days over spreading wildfires.

“Under the Emergency Management Act the declaration gives the government greater powers to respond to extreme situations for example the province can access emergency funds, mobilize additional supports and continue to work with municipalities, organizations and businesses to support affected residents.

“This is not a step that we took lightly but it’s the one that allows for the quickest and most effective response.”

Smith added that the safety of Albertans is the most important thing.

“The safety and well-being of those affected remains our top priority. We will keep Albertans informed as the situation changes through daily briefings from department officials.”

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Christie Tucker, information unit manager at Alberta Wildfire, added that as of 5 p.m. Saturday there were 392 wildfires burning in the protected forest area of Alberta and 36 are considered out of control. More than 350 000 hectares have now burned since January 1 in Alberta.

Click to play video: 'Alberta wildfires: 79 firefighters from Ontario and Quebec being brought to help battle fires'

Alberta wildfires: 79 firefighters from Ontario and Quebec being brought to help battle fires

At a news conference earlier Saturday, Smith stated the province had the resources needed to handle the situation.

“I want to … assure everyone that our province has the right tools, the right technology and the right resources in place to tackle this challenge and people will get the supports that they need.”

“We’ll spend whatever it takes. We should be aware that in our budget process we put aside $1.5 billion as a contingency because we know that any given year you can end up with a significant amount of resources that need to spend on emergency management … so I don’t think anyone needs to worry that there will not be sufficient resources.”

Additional resources are coming from Quebec and Ontario.

“We are happy that additional resources are coming in today, tomorrow, and Tuesday we’ll be seeing almost 200 additional firefighters over the next few days, and they will be deployed around the province where they are needed,” said Tucker.

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The RCMP says an additional 150 officers are being deployed to aid problem areas. There are around 400 other officers currently helping with the wildfire efforts throughout the province.

Opposition party leader Rachel Notley also spoke about the evolving fires at news conference on Saturday at 3 p.m.

“I’m willing to provide any insights from my past experiences that might be helpful in this situation …I want to say that Alberta has your back.

“Across the province, regular Albertans are stepping up, opening their homes and their hearts. In the coming days I know we’ll see an outpouring of generosity and support as the province pulls together to stand strong to support one another.”

The Alberta Government asks that all evacuees to register at a local registration center, which a list of centers can be found at or online.

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