Over the weekend, NFPA's Canadian Regional Director, Shayne Mintz, shared an update on the state of Alberta wildfire and ongoing recovery efforts in Fort McMurray.
Shayne explained that the fire is still out of control but is travelling in an easterly direction towards the Saskatchewan border. This is an uninhabited area but a change in weather/winds could change the situation. The weather has slowed the progress of the fire and was reported as being 240,000 hectares (~595,000 acres) over the weekend. Weather conditions have cooled but temps in Fort McMurray are forecast to be in the mid to high 70’s (F) until late this week and then dropping again to 50 – 60’s (F) through the weekend. Rain is forecast Thursday and Friday.
Several Oil camps suspended operations during fire threats and are trying to get back up and running. Reports highlight that the fire has made a 1,000,000 barrels per-day impact on production. Efforts are hampered by the lack of worker availability, as many live in the Fort McMurray area and evacuees from those areas aren’t being let back in until damage assessments have been completed and the communities deemed safe.
Approximately 90,000 people were evacuated from Fort McMurray and re-entry plans are being developed.
Over the weekend, the Alberta Premier and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau toured the area announcing that the Canadian government will support the relief and recovery efforts. Initial tours of the area by officials and the media have shown that approximately 90% of the city has been saved from fire. Damage assessments are being conducted as to the condition of critical infrastructure (hospital, schools, water treatment plant etc.) and the focus is on getting those people who have homes to return to, back to their homes as soon as possible. Getting people back to work is a high priority. It’s been reported the hospital sustained some damage to the HVAC systems and can’t be re-opened until repairs are completed. A temporary field hospital has been set up in the meantime. There is still no concrete estimate on damages although it is feared this fire surpasses the losses (1,600 homes) in Slave Lake and Kelowna BC fires (433 and 293 respectively).
If you want to help those effected, the Red Cross has announced there has been $85,000 raised in donations and evacuees are being issued pre-loaded debit cards to deal with short term incidentals. Monetary donations are still being requested to be sent to the Canadian Red Cross at www.redcross.ca and the Canadian government has reaffirmed it’s to commitment to matching all contributions dollar for dollar.