Alberta wildfires: Evacuation order issued for Valleyview

Click to play video: 'Residents from Valleyview, Alta., leave because of wildfire'
Residents from Valleyview, Alta., leave because of wildfire
Another evacuation order was issued Monday afternoon, this time for Valleyview, Alta., due to the Sturgeon Lake wildfire. Residents were told to leave and make their way to Whitecourt. Sarah Reid is there. – May 16, 2023

An evacuation order was issued for the Town of Valleyview at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, May 15.

The town, which is home to about 2,000 people, is located 350 kilometres north of Edmonton and 115 kilometres east of Grande Prairie.

“The wildfire burning north and west of Valleyview is impacting residents of the town,” Monday afternoon’s Alberta Emergency Alert said.

“Everyone in the town must evacuate immediately on Highway 43 south to Whitecourt.”

Residents are being told to bring important documents, medication, pets and enough food and water for three days. They’re being told to register at the Allan & Jean Millar Centre.

Anyone who needs help getting out should go to Polar Palace Arena at 4429 52 Avenue or call 780-524-9583.

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Wildfire smoke from northwest Alberta rolling into Whitecourt the evening of Monday, May 15, 2023. Global News

“There was a school bus and then we were sent here,” said Valleyview resident Julian Saavedra. “It was a not-so-good experience when it comes to the fire, but the people there, the heart is there, the accommodation, the love, the understanding, the cooperation there in Valleyview is there.

“I really hope these wildfires will be contained … it affects a lot of people, a lot of lives, mental issues will be there. People are just recuperating from the COVID from last year. I really hope this will be minimized.”

Christopher Visser and his family packed up several vehicles and drove out of Valleyview to Whitecourt.

“We’ll probably head to Edmonton tonight, hopefully, stay in a hotel, and then go from there, probably head up to B.C. where my wife is from and has friends and family there.

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“We have about four vehicles full for five people,” he said. “But half of it is my wife’s files, which she would not leave at home.”

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Considering the situation, Visser was able to stay calm.

“Other than us, it’s stuff. It can be replaced. So, why stress about it and make life hell?”

Click to play video: 'Wildfires northwest of Edmonton force evacuation of Valleyview, Fox Creek'
Wildfires northwest of Edmonton force evacuation of Valleyview, Fox Creek

Evacuees from Valleyview join other evacuees in Whitecourt — from communities like Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation and Fox Creek.

Fred McCarthy, from Fox Creek, has been camping in Whitecourt for about 12 days with his wife, daughter and pet dogs.

“I feel bad because of the situation that’s happening,” he said, referencing the additional evacuation orders for Valleyview.

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“Everybody’s been so good here in Whitecourt, helping us out. We had one lady drop by and offer to do our laundry if we needed. We had multiple people stop by and offer their acreages to us to actually camp out.”

His advice to new evacuees? Prepare to be out of your home for longer than three days.

“It’s a lot of waiting. We were thinking it was only going to be about three or four days before we would be allowed back in. But with the fire being as big as it is…

“There’s lots of men and women up there fighting.

“Just not knowing when we’re going to be allowed back in … I’m sure as soon as we can get back in they’ll allow us in, but until then, we’re in the hands of Mother Nature,” McCarthy said.

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A makeshift pet shelter in Valleyview that had been taking in animals from other areas under evacuation in northwestern Alberta is now relocating.

It was housing more than 160 pets. Now, about 100 dogs and 35 cats are being transported to Edmonton and will be housed at the AARCS North Haven shelter until warehouse space opens up on Tuesday.

Click to play video: 'Alberta Wildfires: Communities taking in displaced pets'
Alberta Wildfires: Communities taking in displaced pets

Valleyview is east of Sturgeon Cree Nation, which is also under an evacuation order from the MD of Greenview because of the Sturgeon Lake Fire Complex burning to the west and northwest of Valleyview.

That evacuation order said: “With worsening weather conditions, everyone in the affected area must evacuate immediately.”

As of May 15, Alberta Wildfire said the wildfires that make up the Sturgeon Lake Fire Complex were three kilometres southeast of Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation and 3,765 hectares and about 10 kilometres northeast of Valleyview and 1,189 hectares, respectively.

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Both are classified as out of control.

Alberta Wildfire is responding with 20 firefighters, seven helicopters and heavy equipment.

A late afternoon update from Alberta Wildfire said fire activity was expected to increase Monday once a weather inversion lifts.

“Of concern, is the cold front expected to come through the area overnight. The winds will shift from southeast to northwest causing the fire to push towards Valleyview.”

On Monday evening, wildfire smoke began drifting south, impairing visibility in the Whitecourt area.

Wildfire smoke from northwest Alberta rolling into the Whitecourt area the evening of Monday, May 15, 2023. Global News

For a list of emergency alerts and evacuation orders, click here.

— With files from Karen Bartko, Global News


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