Raging wildfires near the town of High Level, Alta., are forcing residents to flee the community.
The town, home to more than 3,000 people, issued an evacuation order at 4 p.m. Monday, telling residents to expect to be away from their homes for at least three days.
The evacuation comes a day after Alberta Fire issued a wildfire alert, urging residents in the area to remain vigilant in the face of the encroaching threat.
High Level is located 310 kilometres south of Hay River. About 715 kilometres separate the town from Yellowknife.
The evacuation order, outlined on the town’s website, advises residents to secure their residences — lock doors and windows while ensuring all fuel and gas applications are turned off — before leaving.
Residents are reminded to bring personal belongings, namely identification, medication, cash and pets with them.
The evacuation order indicates the exodus will take place in stages, with residents in Zone 6 of the town making the first departures.
Residents in Hay River are bracing for the arrival of evacuees.
After the town of High Level told residents to prepare for a potential evacuation Monday morning, a post on the popular Facebook page Hay River Community Announcements suggested setting up a rallying station or a sign-up sheet for those willing and able to take in evacuees.
Within the hour, people were commenting on the post, offering rooming and accommodations for those feeling the wildfires.
Adding her support on the Facebook post, April Martel, chief of K’atl’odeeche First Nation near Hay River, welcomed evacuees to the Dene Wellness Centre.
Dry conditions and forceful winds in Alberta’s Slave Lake Forest Area are fueling the raging wildfires, which have sent smoke north into the NWT.
According to a statement from Enviroment Canada released Monday evening, the migrating smoke is causing poor air quality and reduced visibility in Yellowknife.
Residents who are experiencing symptoms associated with poor air quality, including shortness of breath, irritation of the eyes, throat and nose, are advised to take steps to reduce their exposure to smoke.
Children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to the adverse effects of smoke exposure, according to the government agency.
With shifting winds due overnight, however, the smoke is expected to pass the Yellowknife area on Tuesday, states the special air quality statement.
Updates on the unfolding situation to follow.