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Calgary monitoring northern Alberta wildfires, preparing for evacuees

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The City of Calgary says it’s monitoring the wildfire situation and resulting smoke, as evacuees flee from wildfire zones in northern Alberta.

"At this time, we've received no request for additional support but we continue to reach out to our partners and monitor the conditions," read a statement from the city.

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo began evacuations this week, with the province saying more than 6,000 people have fled their homes.

Many workers in Fort McMurray also caught Wednesday morning flights destined for Calgary, including Dave Morabito.

"The site I work at, it's just northeast, so we were basically on fire watch for the past week watching it go by and hoping it doesn't get to the town," he said.

"There's a bit of worry, a bit of stress, but I think they're better prepared for this time. We've learned from the last time."

Kelly Johnson says he tried to get out of town as quickly as possible, but his last resort was a flight to Calgary.

"I took a flight because I was going to catch a ride, but they closed the highway, so they cancelled all buses. Everybody was stranded," he said.

"I hope they're going to find a way for us to go back up to work again. But, I lived through this in 2016, it's probably a month or so before they sort it out."

Calgary’s Parachutes for Pets is also supporting evacuees with all pet needs.

"Luckily we were prepared this year," said executive director Melissa David.

"We knew it was going to be bad watching the drought and the water table, however, yesterday at about 4:00 p.m., we started getting calls from Fort McMurray evacuees, organizations up there that we've worked with previously and it came very fast and furious over the past about 18 hours."

David says the organization is in desperate need of supplies, food, pet beds and toys that animal owners have outgrown.

"We've sent four loads of supplies up north to various areas in Fort Saskatchewan to meet the evacuees there that were not able to take all their pet supplies," she said.

"Vet care is a big one. Sometimes pets are affected by the smoke. There's cough, sometimes they're injured, actually, in the chaos of the evacuation."

Five evacuees had checked their pets in as of 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

"We've got everything from pet beds to toys, to treats, to food, prescription and we also have partnering vets," said David.

"So if they've forgotten prescription medication or anything, we can get them hooked up."

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