Saskatchewan government ready to help with Fort McMurray wildfire

Saskatchewan at the ready for Fort McMurray residents
WATCH ABOVE: If Alberta makes a formal request for assistance Saskatchewan relief workers are ready. Ryan Kessler finds out what our province is prepared to do in the aftermath of the Fort McMurray disaster.

The Saskatchewan government is preparing in case it’s called to help battle raging wildfires that have destroyed at least 1,600 structures and displaced more than 80,000 people. The Alberta government hasn’t asked Saskatchewan for assistance in Fort McMurray just yet.

“Right now they are in a response mode, and therefore, they have not sent out a formal request for assistance to the province of Saskatchewan,” said Mieka Cleary, deputy commissioner with the Emergency Management and Fire Safety branch of the Saskatchewan government.

FULL COVERAGE: Fort McMurray wildfire

At a news conference in Regina, Cleary told reporters Saskatchewan has forest fire crews battling blazes along the Alberta border. The goal is to free up Alberta teams to move into the Fort McMurray area.

Other measures include allowing Alberta aircraft to refuel at a western Saskatchewan tanker base. A Saskatchewan air ambulance is on standby if requested.

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Talks among Saskatchewan’s ministries, agencies and Crown corporations are ongoing.

“Things such as having availability for shelters here, in case they reach their maximum for shelters within the province of Alberta,” Cleary said.

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan is still experiencing hot and dry conditions with fire danger ratings reaching high and extreme levels.

“We need to ensure that we have the capacity within Saskatchewan in case an event happens,” Cleary added.

WATCH BELOW: Ongoing coverage of the wildfire in Fort McMurray

The Saskatoon Fire Department, with the support of city council, has informed the Emergency Management and Fire Safety that it can make apparatus and staff available for Fort McMurray without reducing service in Saskatoon.

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The Canadian Red Cross in Saskatchewan won’t be sending any volunteers, according to vice-president Cindy Fuchs.

“We need them here just in case we have a wildfire to deal with,” Fuchs said.

Red Cross volunteers are operating a call centre to track the thousands of evacuees from Fort McMurray. Donations support immediate food and shelter needs.

“We always ask for cash donations. It goes a long way,” Fuchs said.

To make a donation, people can call 1-800-418-1111, visit the Red Cross website or text REDCROSS to 30333 to contribute five dollars.