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Alberta asks for military help to battle wildfires

[Press center4] time:2023-05-30 20:14:35 source:BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation) author:Press center 1 click:82order

The province of Alberta has requested military assistance from Canada's federal government as it battles "unprecedented" wildfires.

As of Tuesday morning, 88 wildfires were burning across Alberta, including 27 considered out of control.

Nearly 30,000 people have been asked to evacuate their homes.

The province declared a state of emergency on Saturday with more than 110 active wildfires.

More than 50 schools were closed on Monday morning, affecting over 10,000 students, said Mike Ellis, Alberta's minister of public safety and emergency services, according to the New York Times.

Evacuation orders issued on Monday remained in place on Tuesday in parts of Yellowhead County, in central Alberta.

Other areas had evacuation orders lifted as scattered showers and light winds dampened the blazes.

Around 964,000 acres have burnt since wildfires began over a week ago.

In northern Alberta, over 80 homes were destroyed in rural areas including Fox Lake, John D'Or Prairie, and Garden River, according to The Globe and Mail. More than 3,700 residents in the area were evacuated.

"(The fire) was pretty far from us, from where we live, but we could see all the smoke coming up and it was just getting worse by the minute," Johnette Blesse, a resident, told the Calgary Sun.

Some residents in Fox Lake, the highly remote area where Ms Blesse lives, were forced to evacuate by river barge. 

On Monday, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said she spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and requested additional help, including military support, from the federal government.

"Prime Minister Trudeau confirmed that the military will be sent to assist if necessary" said Ms Smith at a news conference.

She added that this has been a "challenging time" for the province, as firefighters battle flames while residents and hospital patients are being evacuated from the affected areas.

"Tens of thousands of people have been forced from their homes and their jobs, leaving behind everything they own, wondering if they will lose everything that they worked for," she said.

Ms Smith said her province will pay emergency financial assistance of C$1,250 ($934; £740) for any adult who has been forced to evacuate for more than seven days, plus C$500 for each dependent under 18.

Firefighters from other provinces, including Quebec and Ontario, have flown into Alberta to help fight the blazes.

The fires are spread across the western and northern portion of the prairie province, engulfing several areas along the Rocky Mountain Foothills.

The worst-hit areas include Drayton Valley, about 140km (87 miles) west of the provincial capital Edmonton, and Fox Lake, some 550km north of the city, where 20 homes and a police station were consumed by fire.

Some Albertans, however, were allowed to return to their homes on Monday as evacuation orders lifted in a few areas.

Alberta is a major oil-producing region in Canada, and the fires have caused the shutdown of some oil and natural gas wells and pipeline systems.

Canadian natural gas exports to the United States fell to 6.7bn cubic feet per day on Sunday, the lowest since April 2021, according to data compiled by financial data company Refinitiv.

Some residents in Alberta's neighbouring provinces, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, were also evacuated as the provinces battle their own wildfires.

(editor-in-charge:Press center3)

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