Alberta wildfires intensify: Trudeau visits CAF Base amidst growing crisis

Eva Homicio

Alberta is grappling with a severe wildfire situation, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visiting Edmonton to meet with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members who are aiding in the firefighting efforts. 

The escalating situation, fueled by hot and dry conditions, has been described as a 'perfect storm' for the rapid ignition and growth of fires, posing a significant and unpredictable threat to many communities.

During his visit, Trudeau, accompanied by Canada's Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Edmonton Centre Member of Parliament Randy Boissonnault, toured the CAF's setup at CFB Edmonton. They were shown the equipment being dispatched to the front lines across the province. 

The CAF members are assisting in building fire guards, moving hoses, cleaning up hot spots, and helping protect buildings, thereby allowing wildland firefighters to handle the most technical aspects of firefighting.

As of Monday afternoon, 90 wildfires were burning across the central and northern half of the province, with 15 evacuation orders in place. This includes the town of Valleyview, which was evacuated on Monday afternoon. More than 17,000 Albertans remain displaced due to the wildfire risk.

The majority of the wildfires are under control or being held, but 23 are classified as out of control by Alberta Wildfire. The agency has expressed concern over the forecast of strong winds on Monday and Tuesday, which may lead to more unpredictable fire behavior. 

"Combined with the heat and dryness, this will cause dangerous conditions for our firefighters on the ground," said Christie Tucker of Alberta Wildfire.

While Trudeau did not speak to the media during his visit, his ministers pledged that federal support would continue as long as it was needed. 

"We're working very closely not just with other provinces across the country, but other countries – United States, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico – to see if we can draw other firefighters to bring them here to assist Canadian Armed Forces," Blair said.

Alberta declared a provincial state of emergency due to the wildfires on May 6. As the province continues to battle these fires, the federal government's support and the tireless efforts of the firefighters are crucial in mitigating the damage and ensuring the safety of the residents.

Earlier we reported: Wildfire threat prompts evacuation alert for 21,000 residents in Fort St. John, B.C.

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