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Slave Lake overwhelmed by wildfire evacuees

Last Updated May 22, 2019 at 7:12 pm PDT

SLAVE LAKE – Many residents who have fled the wildfire in High Level are overwhelming some evacuation centres.

The mayor of Slave Lake, Tyler Warman, says about 700 wildfire evacuees from High Level and nearby First Nations have registered in his community.

The main evacuation centre, however, hit capacity on Tuesday and some High Level residents are being turned away.

Rachelle Elsiufi with CityNews says residents are being re-directed.

“What we know is that it shut down at 10 o clock last night and they’re telling evacuees from High Level to go to High Prairie. Last night there was also no hotels available.”

Other evacuation centres are open in Peace River and Grande Prairie, where some temporary facilities are being set up.

Campgrounds are also hitting capacity and for residents of High Level, it can be hundreds of kilometres to the next town.

Those who fled to Slave Lake are optimistic fire crews will be able to save the town but they say whatever happens, at least they’re safe.

“For a brief little minute, it was like if I lose my house that’s fine. I’ve got the important things in life,” says one resident. “As long as my family is safe that’s all that matters.”

Those helping evacuees in Slave Lake know this feeling all too well.

The town was evacuated because of a wildfire in 2011 that destroyed parts of the community, and Mayor Warman says they learned a lot from that experience.

Warman says they did a ton of training on how to help other communities, and are thankful to be able to put it to good use.


With files from City News and The Canadian Press