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Calgary’s grandstand building at Stampede Park opened up as wildfire reception centre

The City's emergency management team is uncertain how many people they will intake, but they are prepared to scale up or down.

Calgary has a new evacuee reception centre opened up with support for those Albertans fleeing devastating wildfires across the province.

Calgary Emergency Management Agency Chief Sue Henry rolled out the City of Calgary’s plan to help those in need due to the rapidly changing situation northwest of Edmonton. The official request came into the city Sunday afternoon.

As of Sunday afternoon, more than 29,000 people had fled their homes in the path of more than 109 wildfires, 28 being recorded as out of control, provincial officials have said.

The reception centre will open at the Grandstand Building at Stampede Park (2200 Stampede Trail). Once people check-in, they are eligible for help with accommodations either at local hotels or the general grandstand area lodging.

“We know that Calgarians are very generous and that many people want to know how to help our neighbours who have been impacted by these wildfires,” Chief Henry said.

Chief Henry said that there would be an emotional wellness response team there to help people that have left their homes. There’s also support on-site to help people with pets as well.

“When you first arrive at the center, someone will greet you, they will do an assessment of the kind of supports and help that you need, and get you set up with the appropriate support,” Henry said.

Henry said the situation is fluid, and they weren’t certain about the number of people expected to come to Calgary. Typically, only a very small percentage of people need help when fleeing their homes.

She said they have the ability to expand services and reduce them depending on the need.

Parking will be free for those Alberta residents that are coming to the Grandstand building reception centre. They’re asking anyone needing help to park on the south side of the complex.

Calgary fire department deployment

Along with the opening of a reception area, the Calgary Fire Department will be sending up two shifts of 12 firefighters (24) along with three trucks (four firefighters per truck). Along with them will be a district chief and a mechanic / technician.

“We’re continually evaluating this rapidly evolving situation and we will continue to see what requirements are going forward and how the fire department can assist,” said Calgary Fire Department Deputy Chief Peter Steenaerts.

“The crews that are being deployed are currently our off-duty crews and we’re utilizing spare reserve apparatus that we have in place. So, this does not impact frontline service delivery to Calgarians.”

Deputy Chief Steenaerts said the last time they deployed resources for wildfire support was back in the 2017 Waterton Lake – Kenow fire.  They will continue to assess any request that comes in from the Alberta Emergency Management Agency (AEMA), he said.

The City’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) is open and operating at this time, according to Chief Henry. The municipal emergency response plan has also been activated.  This particular event is different from others the city has responded to because they can’t directly deploy resources to the situation.

They have to wait for the call from the province to provide help.

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said she trusts the work of CEMA as the province trusts the work of the AEMA.

“We are here to provide the types of services that are needed as we feel that all Albertans deserve us coming together to resolve this,” she said.

Anyone needing to register with the province can do so at emergencyregistration.alberta.ca. If emergency financial support related to the Alberta wildfires is required, people can call 1-866-644-5135 (Option 4).