Judi Derksen of La Crete, is looking after a dozen cats including these two kittens, removed by emergency crews from the town of High Level where about 4000 residence were evacuated from the town site due to the Chuckegg Creek wildfire, May 25, 2019.
Ed Kaiser / Postmedia
While lighter winds and hard work are keeping the Town of High Level safe, volunteers have stepped up to help evacuees in all sorts of unique ways.The Derksens turned their La Crete barn into a temporary animal shelter.“We called the reception centre and said we have a bunch of kennels we aren’t using and some space in our barn,” said Jeff Derksen while giving a tour Saturday morning.“Now it’s just a matter of trying to keep it clean,” added his wife, Judi Derksen.As of Friday, authorities had rescued 32 pets from High Level with a dozen cats making their way to the Derksen family’s home in La Crete.On top of each crate inside the Derksen’s barn is an address which shows where the cats were found, but the Derksens said they aren’t sure if they’re all house pets or if some are strays that made their way into homes looking for food.Since getting the cats, the Derksens have been able to split them into pairs that get along while they work with animal control to ensure they’re fed the right amount. They’re giving medicine to the kittens that need it.“They all get a certain amount of time where they can get out and roam free each day,” said Judi Derksen.
Judi Derksen shows her daughter Annistyn, 4, of La Crete, one of a dozen cats she is looking after that were removed by emergency crews from the Town of High Level.
Ed Kaiser /
Residents that did leave pets behind have been asked to report those animals to town officials.“A number of residents were proactive and left notes on the doors of their residences for us saying ‘Cat in the garage, week of food in it,’” said Brent Meyer, acting operations officer for the RCMP western Alberta district, at a media availability Friday. “We’ve worked to identify that resident, get in touch with them and formulate a plan.”Meyer said they’ve found everything from cats and dogs to parrots and horses. Jayme Batt, a public information officer with the Town of High Level, said pets will be reunited with their families once the evacuation is lifted.Judi Derksen said some owners visit their pets everyday since they can’t keep them at the evacuation centres. She and her husband are expecting to get several dogs this weekend as well.Fire officials reported that threat hadn’t changed on Saturday as they continue to control the Chuckegg fire three kilometres outside High Level.
Structural firefighters from 22 Alberta cities, towns and counties are protecting homes and commercial buildings in communities threatened by the Chuckegg Creek Fire.
Chris Schwarz /
Government of Alberta
Lighter winds helped and wildland fire crews used a controlled burn to remove flammable material, creating a barrier to prevent the fire from spreading. In town, firefighters from 22 cities and towns have gone yard to yard, removing flammable patio furniture, propane tanks and debris to reduce risk. They’re also setting up sprinkler systems on the southwest and northwest sides of town.The last recorded size of the fire is now 99,250 hectares. Winds are expected to shift Sunday morning, blowing the flames back toward the town. But officials are optimistic that the fire break will hold. Bulldozers have created a swath of exposed dirt three blades wide and 10 kilometres long, said provincial wildfire information officer Travis Fairweather.The controlled burn has also taken out most of the trees for the three kilometres between the town and the current fire. That’s more than 6,000 hectares of forest. “That’s all looked very successful,” said Fairweather.Crews have been working hard and the focus is on getting people home, said Jamie Coutts, chief of the Slave Lake Fire Department and technical specialist helping with the effort. “The whole focus is on that. When do you get people back to their home, to their community, to their region. Tired is not something we worry too much about.”More help arrives daily.Related
Most of the smoke from the fires was blowing into B.C. but is expected to waft into Alberta and the Edmonton region later Saturday.According to firesmoke.ca, Edmonton residents can expect light smoke to come and go Saturday morning, settling in with periods of light to moderate smoke Saturday afternoon and evening.
Firesmoke.ca forecasts light smoke coming into Edmonton from the forest fires of Northern Alberta Saturday evening. This is the forecast for 4 p.m. local time Saturday.