Alberta is on fire: The wildfire situation Tuesday and where to find evacuation orders

Alberta wildfire officials to provide an update on the provincial wildfire situation on Sunday at 3 p.m.

Editor’s note: This story is updated daily with the latest details on Alberta’s wildfire situation.

While weather forecasts suggested a cold front would soon arrive across Alberta’s boreal forest, provincial officials said Monday that the “fire danger is very high or extreme in the northern regions of the province” amid the ongoing Alberta wildfire situation.

“A red flag watch has been issued for the northern boreal forest (High Level, Fort Vermilion, Fort Chipewyan and Fort McMurray zones),” Alberta Wildfire said in a news release issued late Monday afternoon.

“A red flag watch occurs when weather and fuel conditions are ideal for wildland fire combustion and rapid spread.”

The forecasted cold front was expected in the province’s boreal forest by Monday evening and could come with scattered showers and thunderstorms,” officials said.

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As of Tuesday morning, there were 64 active wildfires burning in Alberta, with 18 of those considered to be out of control.

The extreme rate of wildfire growth seen at the beginning of May has slowed since the long weekend.

Spring 2023 has been the most active wildfire season in Alberta history, with more than 1,063,000 hectares burnt by 525 wildfires, as of Sunday. This is almost twice the size of Prince Edward Island, Alberta Wildfire said.

At this time last year, only 450 hectares had burned. While this year is the highest number on record for area covered by spring wildfires, 1984 still had the highest burn rate across the entire season with 1.3 million hectares.

Members of the Alberta Wildfire incident management team and crew leaders working on the Paskwa Fire (HWF030) pose for a photo at the morning briefing, May 25, 2023. Alberta Wildfire

Fire ban and OHV ban/restriction

The province-wide fire ban has been eased slightly in some areas to a restriction, due to rain and cooler weather that has reduced the wildfire risk in many areas.

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A fire ban and off-highway vehicle ban will remain in place in the High Level and Fort McMurray forest areas, where conditions are still dry and fire risk is high.

However, as of Friday, the fire ban and OHV ban was downgraded to a restriction across the rest of the forest protection area, which runs along Alberta’s foothills and encompasses all of the boreal forest north of Edmonton.

“A fire restriction means you would be able to have wood campfires in designated campgrounds and on private property such as a backyard fire pit,” Alberta Wildfire information unit manager Christie Tucker said during a news conference last week.

All outdoor wood fires will still be banned on public lands, including backcountry and random camping areas.

Click to play video: 'Experts urge Albertans to get FireSmart'
Experts urge Albertans to get FireSmart

Alberta’s wildfire season officially began March 1 — the earliest in Canada and earlier than it used to begin, which was a result of the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire. The season ends in October.

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Click to play video: 'Alberta wildfires: Province to lower fire ban to restrictions in certain areas'
Alberta wildfires: Province to lower fire ban to restrictions in certain areas

Latest on evacuation orders

As of Monday afternoon, five evacuation orders remained in place across Alberta, and 3,501 people remained out of their homes.

Click to play video: 'Alberta wildfires: Protecting the forest and allowing campfires is a ‘fine balance’'
Alberta wildfires: Protecting the forest and allowing campfires is a ‘fine balance’

Boots on the ground

There are currently more than 1,100 out-of-province firefighters supporting 1,700 Alberta Wildfire firefighters.

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Last week, 25 firefighters from New Zealand arrived, while dozens of firefighters from Australia were to arrive this weekend.

Parks Canada has also sent in crews and 96 firefighters from the U.S. arrived last week.

A Hercules Airtanker arrived earlier this month from California, which Tucker said has the capacity to hold 3,000 gallons of water.

A skycrane helicopter picking up water to be dropped onto the Eagle Complex wildfire near Fox Creek on Thursday, May 25, 2023.
A skycrane helicopter picking up water to be dropped onto the Eagle Complex wildfire near Fox Creek on Thursday, May 25, 2023. Alberta Wildfire

There are about 165 helicopters, 25 fixed-wing aircraft and heavy equipment responding to wildfires across Alberta.

400 soldiers deployed across Alberta

About 400 Canadian Armed Forces members from CFB Edmonton are working in the Edson, Winagami Provincial Park, Fox Creek and Slave Lake areas.

Members from 41 Canadian Brigade Group (CBG) participate in fire prevention operations such as hotspot detection, in Drayton Valley, Alberta, on May 16, 2023, in support of Operation LENTUS 23. MCpl Genevieve Lapointe, Canadian Forces

The military said the initial commitment to help was until May 22, but that was extended to Monday, May 29.

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Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced Saturday that he has approved the extension of Canadian Armed Forces deployment in Alberta.

The battle continues

According to the Wildfire Alberta website, as of Monday, there were 10 wildfires of note in the forest protection area  — areas along the foothills and all of northern Alberta where fires are managed by the province. For Alberta Wildfire’s jurisdictional purposes, the FPA is divided into 10 regions.

Many of those “wildfires of note” are complexes: several forest fires in a close geographical area that are being attacked together.

“The fire danger is very high or extreme in the northern regions of the province,” Alberta Wildfire said on Monday.

The fires have destroyed or damaged 275 buildings across Alberta, including homes, businesses, outbuildings and other structures as they blazed a path of destruction more than 11 times the size of the Calgary area.


Alberta’s wildfire dashboard can be accessed here.

Evacuation information

For the latest information, status and updates on evacuations, visit the Alberta Emergency Alerts website.

Any evacuee who has been forced out of their home by wildfire for seven days total — not necessarily consecutively — is eligible for provincial funding supports.

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Adults can receive $1,250 and an additional $500 for children under 18. People can apply for the Emergency Evacuation Funding through the provincial website.

Anyone who is unable to apply online or cannot receive the e-transfer can call the wildfire resources line: 310-4455.

Click to play video: '‘It’s time that we take charge and take ownership’: FireSmart Alberta'
‘It’s time that we take charge and take ownership’: FireSmart Alberta

As of May 27, the province has processed over 16,500 applications for wildfire evacuee aid and have sent out more than $28 million to individuals and families affected by wildfires.

Alberta Education announced earlier this month that students who have missed 10 or more school days because of wildfire evacuations will be automatically exempt from diploma exams.

Students who don’t want the exemption can write the exams at a different school in June, or wait and write them in August.

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Both the federal and provincial government are matching donations to the Canadian Red Cross to support the disaster relief efforts in Alberta communities.

That means both levels of government will each match every dollar donated to the Canadian Red Cross 2023 Alberta Fires Appeal.

— With files from Meaghan Archer, Paula Tran, Emily Mertz, Phil Heidenreich and Jodi Hughes, Global News

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