As a safety response to the massive wildfires currently threatening the Northwest Territories, officials in Yellowknife have ordered the residents to evacuate the city by noon on Friday.

To ensure that those who are being evacuated have a place to go, The Salvation Army’s emergency disaster services (EDS) team has been working hard this week to confirm that Salvation Army locations in British Columbia and Alberta are prepared to receive citizens fleeing the smoke and fire.

Dan Millar, assistant territorial director for emergency disaster services, says EDS teams have been set up in nearby provinces as the mass evacuation continues.

“It is more important for people to be safe, to get out of these wildfire areas and to worry more about family instead of property. We have EDS teams set up in British Columbia, as well as in Alberta,” Millar said.

For those within the centre of the emergency, the priority is to assist everyone in getting out of the city, especially the most vulnerable.

Tony Brushett, executive director of The Salvation Army’s Northwest Territories Resource Centre, explained that flights have been scheduled to help those who are in the most danger.

“We have a charter flight that we have booked with all of our vulnerable clients on it, and they’re headed to Calgary to one of our centres there. The smoke is very thick out here so anybody with any respiratory issues is struggling,” Brushett said.

As there is major congestion on the roads and at the airport, some citizens may not be able to evacuate before noon. Therefore, The Salvation Army in Yellowknife has two evacuation centres available that will shelter those who are unable to leave.

“We will have a couple of evacuation centres here that are fireproof for people who have nowhere to go. They’ll be kept here as long as we can ensure their safety. But otherwise, just about all 20,000 of us will be out of here by noon,” Brushett added.

This year, the EDS team has dealt with numerous wildfires across the country. Despite some fatigue, the members of the team keep working hard to assist the communities affected by these natural disasters.

The best way for members of the community to assist The Salvation Army in their work is through monetary donations.

“The EDS teams have been working for a long period now with the wildfires across the country. But they are working hard. The best way to support is financially,” Millar shared.

The funds received for this cause will be used to aid the communities impacted by the wildfires across Canada this year.

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