The Grande Prairie RCMP is reminding residents to keep clear of any roadblocks and evacuation zones surrounding the Wapiti River Fire, as the unpredictable nature of the ongoing emergency can change in an instant.
“This came pretty quick, and our role in this is obviously public safety is number one, and making sure everyone in the evacuation zone is safe,” says Grande Prairie RCMP Sgt. Shawn Graham.
“It’s very important that at this point people follow the direction that is given, and just to stay out of that area to allow first responders, fire and police and other workers in that area to do the job safely.”
Graham says he knows those in the affected areas, or even curious residents across the region, are looking for as much information as possible. However, he says getting close to, or beyond evacuation lines simply isn’t worth the risk.
“There are processes in place through the command centre to be able to get permits to go in and do things. We have roadblock areas that are there to allow for first responders to get in there without the public in there risking their safety,” he says.
“Just staying out of the area is going to really help us to allow emergency vehicles to get in there, because if there are lots of other vehicles on the road, it could prevent them from getting in there quickly.”
Graham adds events like this can quickly, and as officers may have to be redeployed in a hurry, the best way to ensure everyone’s safety we might have to then direct resources somewhere else really quickly, so we need to be able to move within that zone, or if the zone is extended, we need to be able to move there quickly,”
The now 1,700 hectare fire southwest of the City of Grande Prairie has caused the evacuation of approximately 400 people, and is still listed as out of control.