For the past week Fort McMurray and surrounding areas have been under threat from a massive and unprecedented wildfire that saw 80,000 residents evacuated from the area. Responders from Fort McMurray and all across Canada continue to work 24 hours a day to protect the municipality from the out of control wildfire.
We, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, are working from our Emergency Operations Centre along with emergency responders to limit the damage and return Fort McMurray and area to normal as quick as we can. We are still here. We are still working to make this community safe with the goal of returning you to your homes as soon as possible so we can begin the rebuilding process. Although exact details are still forthcoming, we are committed to providing you with as much information as we can when it is available.
Right now the following information is what we can share with you. This webpage will continue to be updated with information as soon as it is available for sharing.
Who is allowed in Fort McMurray?
A provincial state of local emergency is currently in place and there is a mandatory evacuation order which means that nobody is permitted in the evacuated area unless they are part of the emergency response efforts. Smouldering hot spots, hazardous materials and downed power lines are some of the dangers that can still be found throughout the town, which makes access to any parts of the evacuated zone dangerous.
How bad is the damage?
At this time, it has been determined that approximately 85 per cent of the city, including the downtown area, is intact. Only one school, which was under construction, was damaged by the fire. All others remain standing. The hospital was not damaged in the fire but is not yet operational.
What parts of the City are damaged?
Our Emergency Operations Team is developing a map to identify areas which were damaged by the fire. When those maps are ready they will be shared.
What is the emergency operations effort focused on now?
The team is currently completing City-wide property damage assessments to determine which areas of the evacuated area need work prior to re-entry. There are large portions of the city that have no electricity, no gas, no water – those are the essential services that need to be in place before residents can return. The area is also currently under a boil water advisory until further notice.
How can I donate equipment to emergency operation efforts
The province of Alberta has coordinated the efforts of professionals from a variety of industries to help make our City safe. As safety remaining the top priority for our citizens and our responders, only the services and professionals enlisted by the province are permitted to help inside the City of Fort McMurray. Some companies however, may have the ability to donate some of their equipment to emergency operations. If your company has equipment to offer, please complete this online form.
When can we return to our City?
Plans for re-entry, transportation, security and provisions of food and supplies need to be developed to ensure a safe and coordinated return to the City. Information about re-entry will be made available as soon as we have complete information on how displaced residents can safely return. The safety of our residents has always been and always will be our top priority.
What can I do about my pet that had to be left behind?
The Emergency Operations Team has created an online emergency pet rescue request form for evacuees to indentify addresses where they believe their pets were left. The information collected from evacuees will be used by animal services personnel to enter homes and search for pets. Many pets have been found throughout the City are also being collected and identified.
All located pets are transported to Edmonton where pet owners will be contacted individually by Alberta SPCA in the coming days to pick up located pets. We cannot provide individual information on pets that have not been located at this time while we work to prioritize the search and rescue efforts.
I had to leave my car behind when I evacuated, how can I get it back?
RCMP has begun the process of relocating the vehicles that had to be left on Highway 63. A call centre will be established for Albertans to inquire about or arrange pick up of vehicles. The contact information for the call centre will be posted as soon as it's available.
What is a State of Local Emergency?
Under the Emergency Management Act section 21, local authorities (regional or municipal governments) can declare a temporary state of local emergency to allow them take extraordinary actions to deal with the situation at hand. Examples of extraordinary powers available under section 19 (1) of the Emergency Management Act include:
- acquire real or personal property (e.g. resources, equipment)
- conscript people to assist with the emergency
- enter land and buildings without a warrant
- control or prohibit travel
- remove structures, trees, crops
- fix prices for essential items, such as food, clothing, fuel, equipment, medical supplies
- evacuate people
The following states of emergency have been declared:
- Provincial State of Emergency for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo - May 4
- Local State of Emergency for Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation - May 3
- Local State of Emergency for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo - May 1
Agreements have been signed with the Canadian Forces to assist with air support and transportation as needed.
More information from the Province of Alberta:
Emergency updates and information for evacuees.