“My wife and I were deeply concerned to learn of the wildfires ravaging communities in Western Canada,” his statement read.
“We send our most special thoughts and prayers to all those who have been displaced and who have lost their homes, businesses or property. We would also like to express our deepest admiration to the first responders and volunteers who have been working to bring the fires under control, while also supporting their neighbours and communities in need,” the statement continued.
“We hold many fond memories of our visits to Western Canada and know that those affected will rise to this challenge with customary Canadian strength, resilience and determination.”
The wildfires in Alberta have been burning for two weeks, with 89 listed as active as of Thursday morning and 23 marked as out of control, according to Alberta Wildfire.
An estimated 405,908 hectares has burned or is burning so far this season — double the area burnt in all of last year’s season, the organization noted. There were 13 evacuation orders as of Wednesday afternoon, with nearly 18,000 Albertans affected.
The Canadian Armed Forces is being deployed to help fight the fires after Premier Danielle Smith reached out to the federal government on Monday.
In a message on Twitter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Canadian Forces would provide “firefighting support and airlift resources, assist with the evacuation of isolated communities and help keep people safe.”The province said Thursday that over the next few days, units will deploy to the Grande Prairie, Fox Creek and Drayton Valley areas.
Troops from 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (3PPCLI) and 1 Combat Engineer Regiment (1CER) are moving out to establish bases of operations in the province.
Army reserve soldiers drawn from across Alberta will deploy this week, the province added.
— with a file from Global’s Meaghan Archer and Emily Hertz.