Ontario sends crews to help wildfire-besieged Alberta | Globalnews.ca

On the day wildfire-ravaged Alberta declared a state of emergency, Ontario was in the process of scrambling crews to head west.

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Forty Ontario-based firefighters were sent to Alberta Saturday to help battle blazes across the province, along with four task force leaders and two command officials, according to centralized data.

They were joined by firefighters from Quebec and firefighting aircraft as Canadian wildfire responses coalesce behind local crews in wild rose country.

The crews landed in Alberta on Saturday afternoon.

Click to play video: 'Cell video shows frightening moments as residents flee northern Alberta wildfire'

Cell video shows frightening moments as residents flee northern Alberta wildfire

The information comes from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC), a non-profit organization owned and operated by Canada’s national and provincial wildland firefighting agencies. It exists to coordinate responses to emergencies like the one in Alberta.

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“Ontario has demonstrated solidarity and was ready to answer the call for help in combating the devastating wildfires in Alberta,” a spokesperson for Ontario’s ministry of natural resources and forestry told Global News.

“We have mutual aid agreements with jurisdictions across the country, including Alberta. The collaborative efforts between Ontario and Alberta illustrate the importance of interprovincial cooperation in times of crisis.”

On Saturday, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith called a state of emergency, saying safety was the key priority.

“The safety and well-being of those affected remains our top priority,” she said. “We will keep Albertans informed as the situation changes through daily briefings from department officials.”

Christie Tucker, information unit manager at Alberta Wildfire, welcomed the help Ontario and Quebec were set to send.

“We are happy that additional resources are coming in today, tomorrow and Tuesday; we’ll be seeing almost 200 additional firefighters over the next few days, and they will be deployed around the province where they are needed,” said Tucker.

The RCMP also promised an additional 150 officers who will be deployed to aid problem areas.

So far this year, Alberta has seen 268 fires, according to CIFFC. There are 128 actively burning, compared to just three in Ontario. A total of 81 fires across Canada are rated as out of control by CIFFC, many of which are located within Alberta’s borders.

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Ontario is already working on plans to send more firefighters to Alberta, with additional deployments likely to be announced shortly.

— with files from Global News’ Destiny Meilleur

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