Updated on May 17 to include links to the registration pages for the Town of Slave Lake Voyent Alert system and M.D. of Lesser Slave River emergency phone system. The M.D. of Opportunity is using the Alberta Emergency Alert system, which the Town of Slave Lake and M.D. of Lesser Slave River will use in addition to the community specific alerts. The M.D. will also be using the local radio station.
The wildfire season picked up steam on May 4 to 6, including three evacuations in the Slave Lake Forest Area. By May 7 it had slowed down, but that could change. On May 14, it picked up again. Therefore, it is useful to know where to find accurate and up-to-date information.
People wanting to keep an eye on the wildfire situation can go to the Alberta Wildfire Status Dashboard.
“As soon as a fire is reported it goes on the dashboard,” says Leah Lovequist wildfire information officer for the Slave Lake Forest Area. Over the May 5 and 6 weekend, there was a glitch with the Wildfire App, but the web version of the dashboard was always accurate. The url is quite long, so search Alberta Wildfire Status Dashboard.
Town of Slave Lake
Since May 5, the Town of Slave Lake has been issuing wildfire updates at 9 a.m., 1 p.m., and 5 p.m. using Voyent Alert and Facebook. To register for Voyent Alert, people can download the app or sign up to receive emails or texts.
Throughout the wildfire season from March 1 to November 30, local wildfire information officers write public summaries of wildfire suppression efforts. People can sign up for these, at srd.web.alberta.ca/slave-lake-area-update.
Public updates are daily when the wildfire danger is high, says Lovequist. If time allows and the situation changes, there may be more than one update during a day.
However, public updates aren’t wildfire information officer’s only job, she adds. In the case of wildfires threatening a community, their first priority is letting municipal, First Nations, and Métis Settlement governments know. Evacuations are ordered by these governments.
Wildfires can cause road closures. These are available at 511.alberta.ca.
Municipalities call evacuations and let people know in various ways. Evacuations are automatically added to Alberta Emergency Alert system.
For example, Town of Slave Lake Mayor Frankie Ward says that should an evacuation be ordered by the Town of Slave Lake, it would go through Voyent Alert, social media, and Alberta Emergency Alert. The M.D. of Lesser Slave River website has information about wildfires. This includes three steps to be informed – one sign up your phone for emergency alerts, two listen to the local radio station, and three download the Alberta Wildfire app. The M.D. of Opportunity website has a link to Alberta Emergency Alert. It used this system when it evacuated Chipewyan Lake.
A full list of current evacuations is on alberta.ca/emergency. This website looks like an outline, but if you click on the blue words there is information. It also has links to road closures, the Alberta Wildfire Status Dashboard, air quality, hospital closures, court closures, boil water advisories, etc.
Note: municipal and First Nation evacuations have been on the Alberta Emergency Alert. As of May 16, the Peavine Metis Settlement evacuation order was added to the Alberta Emergency Alert. This evacuation happened on May 14. For some reason, the day of the alert the East Prairie Métis Settlement and Peavine Métis Settlement evacuations were NOT on the Alberta Emergency Alert. However, people in those communities were able to evacuate safely, so they received the information some how. People who live in Gift Lake Métis Settlement may wish to ask their council how they will be notified if there is an evacuation.
The Lakeside Leader will be reporting on wildfires both in print and online. Articles will likely be once a week when things are calm and more often when the wildfires are active.