Alberta wildfires: Provincial state of emergency ends

Click to play video: 'Alberta wildfires: Province to end state of emergency at midnight'
Alberta wildfires: Province to end state of emergency at midnight
Officials gave an update on the Alberta wildfires on Saturday and said that the provincial state of emergency will expire at 11:59 p.m. – Jun 3, 2023

Alberta’s provincial state of emergency ends on Saturday, June 3 at 11:59 p.m., the government announced.

The provincial state of emergency was declared on May 6 after tens of thousands of people were forced from their homes over intense and spreading wildfires. The Emergency Management Act granted the province greater powers to respond to extreme situations such as accessing emergency funds, mobilizing additional support and working with municipalities to help evacuees.

Mike Ellis, who was Alberta’s minister of public safety and emergency services prior to the May 29 election, said the decision was made because the wildfire situation across the province “improved significantly.”

Click to play video: 'Wildfire Seasonal Outlook for the Summer'
Wildfire Seasonal Outlook for the Summer

The daily wildfire news conferences will also end and the province will send out daily update emails instead, he said. News conferences will only be held if there are any significant changes to the wildfire situation.

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“We have the resources in place to protect the health and safety and well-being of Albertans without the extraordinary powers of the Emergency Management Act,” Ellis told reporters on Saturday.

“Right now, we do not anticipate a need for another provincial state of emergency, but the government will consider it in the future, if the situation does require it to be, we will take swift action and use all the tools in the toolbox that is available to ensure the safety of all Albertans.”

Click to play video: 'Alberta wildfires: Residents return to Rainbow Lake Friday after 27-day evacuation'
Alberta wildfires: Residents return to Rainbow Lake Friday after 27-day evacuation

However, this doesn’t mean the work to fight the fires is over, nor does it mean resources and support for evacuees and communities will end.

Cyndee Evans from the Alberta Emergency Management Agency said there will be no change to the level of support, resources and coordination that are being provided.

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“The Alberta Emergency Management Agency continues to stand ready to support communities and organizations throughout this response and into the recovery ahead,” she said at Saturday’s news conference.

“The rain and cooler temperatures have helped significantly, and many evacuees have returned to their communities. However, the fire danger continues to be high and extreme in the northern part of the province, and that’s expected to continue for the foreseeable future.”

This comes after Alberta’s wildfire dashboard reported 57 active wildfires in the province on Saturday. There are six states of local emergency, five band council resolutions and 4,334 people evacuated.

Residents of Rainbow Lake, west of High Level in northern Alberta, were able to return home Friday after a 27-day evacuation. However, residents of three First Nations north of Fort McMurray heard they won’t be allowed home for at least several more days.

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