Area emergency responders send support to battle Alberta wildfires
By Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative ReporterHeadlines News Emergency & disaster management Alberta firefighters wildfires
May 17, 2023, Alberta – As wildfires continue to ravage northern Alberta, emergency responders from Drumheller and surrounding areas are gearing up to provide support to those already battling out of control blazes in the Edson, Grand Prairie, Slave Lake, and other areas.
During the Monday, May 8 Drumheller Committee of the Whole meeting, Protective Services director Greg Peters shared the Town was prepared to send resources to help support firefighting efforts; on Friday, May 12 the Drumheller, East Coulee, and Rosedale halls announced it had deployed one fire engine and four members-Captain Jeff Gerlinger, senior firefighter Doug Stanger, and firefighters Savanna Richardson and Phil Thompson.
Fire personnel are not the only supports being sent north. Drumheller RCMP Detachment Commander Staff Sergeant Rob Harms tells the Mail, “I can confirm that on Sunday, May 7, Reserve Constable Art Hopkins of Drumheller deployed to the fires; he is assigned to the High Level fires and is supporting the local detachment with general duty policing, assisting with evacuations, and more.”
R/Cst Hopkins has since returned back to the detachment as of Thursday, May 11.
While no other detachment members are scheduled to deploy at this time, S/Sgt Harms says notice has been sent regarding potential future deployment of officers from the Drumheller detachment. He adds any deployment will be done to avoid impacts on the detachment and to ensure “appropriate and effective policing” in the communities it serves.
Wheatland County announced on Wednesday, May 10 it had received a request for support from the Alberta Emergency Management Agency to support ongoing firefighting efforts.
A total of 14 fire personnel, as well as seven apparatuses, were deployed to assist in the Buck Creek, Grand Prairie County, and Fox Creek areas; these fire personnel and apparatuses were dispatched from the Standard, Rockyford, Rosebud, and Dalum Fire Departments.
Starland County shared it would not be sending apparatus or personnel support.
Kneehill County deployed director of Emergency Management Debra Grosfield between May 5 and May 12; upon her return, Deputy Director of Emergency Management Dan Marsellus was then deployed and remains on scene.
At this time, the county is not deploying any fire personnel or apparatus due to ongoing risks posed by high winds and dry conditions, and a full fire ban which is in effect in the county.
The wildfires prompted the Alberta government to declare a state of emergency on Saturday, May 6 as some 29,000 people were evacuated from their homes in affected areas, and Alberta Premier Danielle Smith announced during an update on Monday, May 8 eligible evacuees over the age of 18 will receive a one-time payment of $1,250, with an additional $500 for each dependent child under the age of 18.
While evacuation orders for Yellowhead County, located west of Edmonton, were lifted on Thursday, May 11, some 18,000 people remain displaced from their homes.
On Thursday, it was also announced Canadian Armed Forces troops would be deployed to assist with efforts in the Grande Prairie, Fox Creek, and Drayton Valley areas.
-The Drumheller Mail
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