The Saskatchewan government has yet to receive an official request from neighbouring Alberta as of Wednesday to help combat the wildfire that struck the northern city of Fort McMurray, despite the province declaring a state of emergency.
The two provinces have a mutual aid agreement in case of a disaster, which was invoked by Saskatchewan during its northern wildfires last summer.
There were 13 wildfires burning in Saskatchewan Wednesday, some of which are along the Alberta border.
Emergency Management and Fire Safety deputy minister Mieka Cleary confirmed the province is assisting with firefighting efforts near the border, “which will then allow the Alberta government to free up those firefighting resources they have there to be redistributed elsewhere”.
The western Saskatchewan base tanker will also be opened to allow Alberta aircraft to land and refuel.
Saskatchewan Air Ambulance is also on standby if needed.
Saskatchewan Red Cross not sending volunteers to Alberta
Saskatchewan Red Cross is accepting donations to help those affected by the fire, but despite requests, organizers said they won’t send any volunteers in case fires flare up at home like last summer.
“We have a very high fire risk in Saskatchewan,” Red Cross Saskatchewan director Cindy Fuchs said. “Our support is not necessarily that we will mobilize our volunteers there because we’d really like to keep them here should we need them in the next few days.
Saskatoon ready to receive evacuees and send firefighters
Saskatoon emergency crews say they’re ready to help Fort McMurray if the call comes.
Saskatoon fire chief Morgan Hackl said his department reached out to the province’s Emergency Management and Fire Safety commissioner and extended an offer to send crews to fight the blaze.
He said council has approved the offer, but exact details of how many people or how much equipment could be sent, would be determined if they get asked for help. City emergency measures director Ray Unrau said they’ve offered to take in evacuees.
“We definitely have made contact and we’re on the list if things need to be actioned, we’re prepared to do that,” he said Wednesday.
Saskatoon hosted more than 4,000 northern evacuees last summer.
Meanwhile, Saskatoon will have its fifth city-wide test of their Notify Now emergency messaging system Thursday at 6 p.m. The system, initialized in 2013, provides information on emergency situations, what residents should do, where people can go for safety and when it is safe to return.
The system has the ability to call all Saskatoon land lines and can text or email anyone who has signed up on the city website.