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As noon deadline passes, NWT Fire offering free rides to escape Yellowknife wildfire

As the deadline to be outside of Yellowknife passes, NWT Fire is offering rides to the Wildfire evacuation centre in Yellowknife.
Evacuees from Yellowknife, territorial capital of the Northwest Territories, queue up to get gas at Big River Service in Ft. Providence, Alta., Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023. All residents who are able to were supposed to be out of Yellowknife by noon, Aug. 18. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bill Braden

As the deadline to be outside of Yellowknife passes, NWT Fire is offering rides to the Wildfire evacuation centre in Yellowknife.

A posting to the agency’s Facebook page was released at 12:07 p.m. Aug. 18.

“If you need a ride to the Registration Centre call 867-444-0115,” reads the notice. “We will arrange to come pick you up and bring you to the centre.”

Airborne evacuations began at 6 a.m. this morning and 22 flights are currently scheduled out of Yellowknife. Passengers will be taken to Calgary International Airport where they will be greeted by support staff to assist with the evacuation.

All residents of Yellowknife were to be out of the city by noon today. The GNWT says it has tracked 3,699 vehicles crossing the Deh Cho Bridge as of 8:45 a.m.

Yellowknife issued an evacuation order Aug. 16 after it was determined a nearby wildfire could potentially reach the city by the weekend. Residents have been given until noon on Aug. 18 to leave the city.

Free flights were flown out of Yellowknife to Calgary throughout the day to take people unable to evacuate by road, and bus services have also been made available. Hundreds of people lined up for the trip, filling planes to capacity and many more had to wait another day. People who are immunocompromised, have mobility issues or have other chronic health conditions were given priority.

Registration to fly out resumed at 6 a.m. Aug. 18. Flight schedules are being developed for the entire day and into Saturday, Aug. 19. Young said the Saturday flights were dependent on weather and safety.

Evacuees travelling by road are being asked to arrange their own accommodations where possible. Carpooling is encouraged to both reduce traffic and to assist those without a vehicle.

All evacuees are asked to register at a reception centre upon reaching their destination. Evacuees taken by air to Calgary will be transported to the local reception centre. The other reception centres for Yellowknife evacuees are as follows:

-Westin Calgary Airport, 671 Aero Drive NE

-Fox Creek Hall, 200 1st Street, Fox Creek

-Parkland Motels II, 10710 101 Ave, Lac la Biche - Health services are limited in this community.

-G.H. Dawe Community Centre, 6175 67 St, Red Deer

-Polar Palace Arena, 4429 52 Ave, Valleyview

-Allen and Jean Millar Centre, 58 Sunset Blvd, Whitecourt

-5001 44 Ave, Fort Vermillion

-Edmonton EXPO Centre, Hall C, 7515 118 Ave NW

Evacuees from the South Slave, including Hay River, Enterprise, Fort Smith and K’atl’odeeche First Nation are asked to travel to one of the following locations:

-Baytex Energy Centre, 9810 73 Ave, Peace River

-High Level Arena, 10101 105 Ave, High Level

Do not travel to Leduc, Fort McMurray, St. Albert or Grande Prairie, as those reception centres are at full capacity. Anyone still in Hay River who needed to be flown out on Aug. 17 was flown to Lloydminster.

Kakisa residents are asked to inform the band office when leaving or to register at the reception centre in Fort Simpson. Jean Marie River residents have been evacuated to Fort Simpson.

People evacuating from the NWT are also being offered free camping in all Province of Alberta maintained campgrounds. To do so, first register as an evacuee at a reception centre. Then phone the Alberta Parks Contact Centre at 1-877-537-2757 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to be matched to a campsite for up to 10 consecutive days.

About the Author: Eric Bowling

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