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Update 3: Northwest Alberta wildfire (May 23 at 4:00 p.m.)

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10 minute read

May 23, 2019 

Thunderstorms are forecast for Thursday and Friday with no precipitation. States of local emergency remain in effect, with residents under a mandatory evacuation order.

Current situation

  • The Chuckegg Creek Wildfire is burning approximately three kilometres south of the Town of High Level in Mackenzie County.
  • This out-of-control wildfire is almost 92,000 hectares.
  • Alberta Wildfire, Alberta Emergency Management Agency and local authorities are cooperating in the response.
  • Albertans should be prepared to be away from home longer than initially planned. Evacuees are asked to report to reception centres in Peace River, High Prairie, Grande Prairie, Slave Lake, Fort Vermilion and Hay River.
  • Firefighters are focusing efforts on containing the wildfire outside High Level. Yesterday, a break in conditions allowed a controlled burn between the wildfire and the town to consume materials that could have become fuel for the wildfire.
  • Peace River is reporting reduced visibility due to the smoke which is expected to stay until tomorrow.
  • Resources on the ground include about 143 wildland firefighters, 154 structural fighters and staff on the ground, supported by 28 helicopters, air tankers, 10 structural protection units and heavy machinery.
  • Continuing dry and windy conditions in most of Alberta have increased the danger of forest fires. Fire bans and off-highway vehicle restrictions are now in place for central and northern areas of the province.
  • Approximately 5,000 people have been evacuated from High Level and the neighbouring communities.
  • Mandatory evacuation orders are in place for the Town of High Level and parts of Mackenzie County south of High Level.
  • Dene Tha’ First Nation declared an evacuation order for Bushe River, Meander River and Chateh.
  • A voluntary evacuation is in place for Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement and areas north of High Level.
  • Alberta Health Services evacuated 15 patients from the Manning Community Health Centre due to smoke from the wildfires.
  • The emergency department at Manning Community Health Centre remains open.
  • Power, wireless services and gas have been restored to the Town of High Level, Mackenzie County and the Dene Tha’ First Nation.
  • Detailed information is available on emergency.alberta.ca, which is updated frequently.

Reception centres

  • Reception centres are open at:
    • Slave Lake Legacy Centre (400 6 Avenue)
    • High Prairie Sports Palace (5409 49 Street)
    • Grande Prairie Regional College (10726 106 Avenue)
    • Peace River Misery Mountain Ski Hill (10408 89 Street)
    • La Crete Heritage Centre (25411 Township Road 1060, south of La Crete)
    • Fort Vermilion Community Cultural Complex (5001 44 Avenue)
    • Hay River Dene Wellness Centre
  • Residents are asked to please check in with a reception centre, even if they are staying with family or friends, or finding alternate accommodations.

Highway closures

  • Highway 35 remains closed between five kilometres and 30 kilometres south of High Level. Highway 697 and the La Crete Ferry is identified as a detour. La Crete Ferry is operational with wait times of approximately one hour.
  • Highway 58 from High Level to approximately 70 kilometres from the junction with Range Road 45A remains closed.

Insurance information

  • Evacuated residents should retain all their receipts for food purchases, accommodation and other related expenses to provide to their insurer for possible reimbursement.
  • Most home and tenant’s insurance policies provide reasonable coverage for living expenses during an evacuation. Contact your insurance company for details.
  • Albertans who cannot remember or reach their insurance provider, can contact the Insurance Bureau of Canada at 1-844-227-5422 or by email at [email protected]. Information to understand your fire insurance coverage is online at ibc.ca/ab/disaster/alberta-wildfire.

Justice and legal matters

  • High Level Court is closed. Call the Peace River Court at 780-624-6256 for inquiries on High Level Court matters scheduled for this week and next. All scheduled Fort Vermilion matters will be heard in Peace River. Call the Peace River Court at 780-624-6256 if you’re unable to register your name and phone number. Matters will be held by phone if necessary.
  • In many cases, tickets can be paid online. For any other inquiries requiring direction from the court about Peace River and Fort Vermilion court matters, call the Peace River Court at 780-624-6256.
  • If you have an appointment with a probation officer in an evacuated area, report to the community corrections office nearest you. If you do not know where the nearest one is, call 780-427-3109 (to call toll free, first dial 310-0000).
  • If you are an intermittent server in an evacuated area, call the Peace River Correctional Centre at 780-624-5480 (to call toll free, first dial 310-0000) for direction.

Air quality

Health

  • Mental health support is available by calling Alberta’s 24-hour Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642.

Post-secondary

  • Apprentices or journeypersons from the High Level area who have questions should call the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Information line at 1-800-248-4823, Monday through Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or visit tradesecrets.gov.ab.ca.
  • Post-secondary students with questions about Alberta student loans can call 1-855-606-2096, or toll free in North America at 1-855-606-2096 Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Pets and livestock

  • Residents who may have left their pets at home can call 780-926-2201. Volunteers can check on your pets.
  • Mackenzie County has stock trailers to assist with livestock transport. Visit highlevel.ca for more information

Donations and volunteers

Canada Post

  • Canada Post has suspended mail delivery services in the communities of High Level, Meander Creek, Chateh, Rainbow Lake, Zama City, Fort Vermilion, Manning and La Crete.
  • Mail will be held at the Edmonton depot until mail service resumes.
  • Check the Canada Post website for updates.

Income Support, Alberta Supports and AISH

  • Residents receiving benefits from the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) or the Income Support program by cheque rather than electronic deposit, and who are affected by the wildfire in High Level, can visit their nearest Alberta Supports Centres to pick up their cheque.
  • If you are in La Crete, you can pick up your cheque at the local reception centre. If you receive your benefits via direct deposit, your payment will be deposited as usual.
  • For information on child intervention and child care, residents may contact 1-800-638-0715.
  • If persons with developmental disabilities, their families or contracted service providers need human, financial, or in-kind assistance to connect with loved ones, find accommodations or provide assistance to individuals receiving PDD supports, please contact the nearest Alberta Supports Centre for assistance. You can find a list of Alberta Supports Centres online or you can call the Alberta Supports contact Centre at 1-800-232-7215 provincewide between 7:30 a.m. – 8 p.m., Monday to Friday. 
  • For additional information on social benefits, affected individuals can contact Alberta Supports or call 1-877-644-9992, Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Health card

  • To get a replacement Health Care Insurance Card at no cost, you can contact 780-427-1432 or toll free at 310-0000 and then 780-427-1432 when prompted. Your Alberta Personal Health Card can be mailed to a temporary address.  

Other information

  • Residents driving through the area should carry enough fuel as there may be shortages.

Public information

  • You can call 310-4455, open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for wildfire-related information.

Related information

President Todayville Inc., Honorary Lieutenant Colonel 41 Signal Regiment, Board Member Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Award Foundation, Board Member Canadian Forces Liaison Council (Alberta) Musician, Photographer, Former VP/GM CTV Edmonton.

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More Arctic politicians join call for RCMP to wear body cameras in Nunavut

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IQALUIT, Nunavut — The mayor of Iqaluit is joining other Arctic leaders calling for RCMP members in Nunavut to wear body cameras.

Kenny Bell says in a release that cameras would make law enforcement safer for everyone concerned.

Video surfaced on social media on Tuesday showing officers using the door of a moving police vehicle to knock an Inuit man to the ground.

David Qamaniq, a member of the Nunavut legislature, says that’s exactly the kind of behaviour that shows the need for monitoring.

Body cameras are also supported by the territory’s MP, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, and its senator, Dennis Patterson.

Concern over the relationship between RCMP and Inuit has been growing in recent years.

The force, which was not immediately available for comment, faces at least two lawsuits over its dealings with Inuit.

The national Inuit women’s group recently released a report saying people in the Arctic face systemic racialized policing.

 

The Canadian Press

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Nation’s streets calmest in days; police credit curfews

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MINNEAPOLIS — Protesters marched on Wednesday in peaceful pleas to end police brutality, after a calmer night in cities across America void of the violence of recent days, as demonstrators heightened calls for justice in the killing of George Floyd.

Curfews and efforts by protesters to contain earlier flare-ups of lawlessness were credited with preventing more widespread damage to businesses in New York and other cities overnight.

“Last night we took a step forward in moving out of this difficult period we’ve had the last few days and moving to a better time,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

New York police said they arrested about 280 people on protest-related charges Tuesday night, compared with 700 a day earlier. Nationwide, the number arrested rose to more than 9,000 since vandalism, arson and shootings erupted around the U.S. in reaction to Floyd’s death May 25 in Minneapolis.

At least 12 deaths have been reported, though the circumstances in many cases are still being sorted out.

The officer who pressed a knee to Floyd’s neck as he pleaded for air has been fired and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers who were at the scene have been fired but not charged.

Floyd’s family, in a visit Wednesday to a makeshift shrine at the Minneapolis street corner where he died, called for the other officers to be arrested, a plea echoed by their attorney, Ben Crump.

“We are demanding justice,” Crump said.

Some tense incidents continued Tuesday night, but were far less prevalent than in preceding days. Police and National Guard troops used tear gas, flash-bang grenades, nonlethal rounds and other means of dispersing crowds near a police precinct in Seattle, near Centennial Park in Atlanta and at demonstrations in Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida.

In Washington, where authorities ordered people off streets before sundown, thousands of demonstrators massed a block from the White House , following a crackdown a day earlier when officers drove peaceful protesters away from Lafayette Park to clear the way for President Donald Trump to do a photo op with a Bible at a church. A black chain-link fence was put up to block access to the park.

“Last night pushed me way over the edge,” said Jessica DeMaio, 40, of Washington, who attended a Floyd protest for the first time. “Being here is better than being at home feeling helpless.”

Pastors at the church prayed with demonstrators and handed out water bottles. The crowd remained in place after the city’s 7 p.m. curfew passed, defying warnings that the response from law enforcement could be even more forceful. But the people were peaceful, even polite.

At one point, the crowd booed when a protester climbed a light post and took down a street sign. A chant went up: “Peaceful protest!”

Pope Francis called for national reconciliation and peace, saying he has ‘’witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest’’ in the U.S.

“My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life,’’ he said.

Trump has pushed the nation’s governors to take a hard line against the violence, tweeting on Tuesday that “lowlifes and losers” were taking over New York’s streets. He again tweeted Wednesday: “LAW & ORDER!”

Thousands of people remained out in New York City on Tuesday night, undeterred by an 8 p.m. curfew, though most streets were clear by early Wednesday. Battered storefronts from the earlier rounds of violence could be seen in midtown Manhattan.

The New York Police Department credited the curfew, which was three hours earlier than the day before, with helping officers take control of the streets.

“The earlier curfew really helped our cops take out of the neighbourhoods people that didn’t belong there,” Chief of Department Terence Monahan said on NBC’s “Today.”

Protesters also marched in Los Angeles; Miami; St. Paul, Minnesota; Columbia, South Carolina; and Houston, where the police chief talked to peaceful demonstrators, vowing reforms.

“God as my witness, change is coming,” Art Acevedo said. “And we’re going to do it the right way.”

More than 20,000 National Guard members have been called up in 29 states to deal with the violence.

In Philadelphia, a statue of former Mayor Frank Rizzo was removed by the city early Wednesday after repeatedly being targeted by vandals. Rizzo presided over a police force widely accused of racism and brutality in the 1970s.

Floyd died after a white Minneapolis officer pressed his knee against the handcuffed black man’s neck as he cried that he couldn’t breathe. The officer, Derek Chauvin, has been fired and charged with murder. Protesters have demanded that the three other officers on the scene be charged, too.

The mother of Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter, Gianna, said she wants the world to know that her little girl lost a good father.

“I want everybody to know that this is what those officers took,” Roxie Washington said during a Minneapolis news conference, her daughter at her side. “I want justice for him because he was good. No matter what anybody thinks, he was good.”

Minnesota has opened a civil rights investigation into whether the Minneapolis Police Department has a pattern of discrimination against minorities.

Some protesters framed the burgeoning movement as a necessity after a long list of killings by police.

“It feels like it’s just been an endless cascade of hashtags of black people dying, and it feels like nothing’s really being done by our political leaders to actually enact real change,” said Christine Ohenzuwa, 19, who attended a peaceful protest at the Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul.

“There’s always going to be a breaking point. I think right now, we’re seeing the breaking point around the country.”

___

Sedensky reported from Philadelphia. Associated Press journalists across the U.S. contributed to this report.

Tim Sullivan And Matt Sedensky, The Associated Press


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