Fort Smith taking preparations for possible evacuation

Residents in Fort Smith are preparing for a possible evacuation due to a forest fire burning about 90 kilometres outside of town.
Highway 5 at the Fort Smith junction was closed twice this weekend due to fires in the nearby area – Friday evening and again on Sunday night.
By Monday, the highway was open again but pilot vehicles were in place to guide travellers through the low visibility areas.


There are also emergency registration forms and pamphlets that were handed out to residents three weeks ago and posted online on the Town of Fort Smith’s website, to prepare for any situation where the town would need to be evacuated.
But Fort Smith Mayor Janie Hobart said that these are only precautions, as there is no immediate danger to the town.
“There are no fires that are actually threatening the town,” she said.
“But we want to make sure that if something happens, that we are as prepared as we can be.”
She also said that all the agencies involved with the emergency measures are having regular meetings, and all are doing whatever they can to help ensure ample communication with the situation.
“I have been very impressed with the cooperation between agencies,” she said. “It is really nice to see.”
Hobart also noted that the town is posting daily updates online around 2 p.m. to keep both residents and travellers posted.
A phone line, 872-8408 has also been activated, and highly used, she noted.
As of Saturday the phone line had approximately 124 hits.
Hobart said that closures were not expected for Monday night, but the Department of Transportation website warns drivers that Highway 5 may be closed with short notice if visibility is reduced to a dangerous level.
“We are in no imminent danger,” she said.
“But conditions are very, very hot and dry.”
Drivers are advised to check the Department of Transportation website before travelling for any advisories or road closures.
A fire ban is also currently in place for Fort Smith.