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2016 Wildfire Recovery

wildfire re-entry photo

The 2016 Horse River wildfire was the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history, forcing the evacuation of over 80,000 residents on May 3, 2016.

The wildfire destroyed or permanently damaged some 2,579 dwellings, most of them residential – accounting for about 10% of all homes in Fort McMurray. Properties in Anzac and some oil sands project accommodations were also destroyed as evacuations also impacted those areas. Unfortunately, two young people passed away in a motor vehicle accident the day following the initial evacuation.

Supported by other government partners and first responders from across Alberta, Canada and around the world as well as industry, businesses and social profit organizations, the Municipality was able to create the conditions for the first stage of permanent re-entry to the community on June 1, 2016.

Overall, the 2016 wildfire resulted in an estimated $3.8 billion in insurable losses. Some studies showed the event led to an overall socioeconomic impact nearing $10 billion.

Backed by the generosity of Canadians and Albertans and the support of the Canadian Red Cross, the community embarked on its recovery in the weeks following re-entry. Reporting directly to Council, this work was guided by the Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee and led by the Recovery Task Force in collaboration with municipal departments, the Canadian Red Cross, industry, business and the social profit sector.

Recovery was focused on the following pillars: People, Rebuild, Environment, Economy and Mitigate. Recovery projects, programs and initiatives related to these five pillars and were supported by meaningful dialogue with the community. Overall, close to 100 ‘Here for You’ public engagement sessions were held in support of recovery efforts in addition to 15 telephone town halls.

Recovery is expected to take five years, although everyone that is impacted faces unique circumstances. As of January 2020, about 85% of wildfire rebuild dwellings were occupied as efforts to support residents in recovery continue at the Municipality and across the region.

Contact PULSE at 780.743.7000 or www.rmwb.ca/pulse for more information or to learn more about 2016 wildfire recovery in the region. Media members can contact media@rmwb.ca with any inquiries related to the 2016 wildfire.

Related

2016 Wildfire Recovery Plan
Lessons Learned & Recommendations 2016 Horse River Wildfire

All Winter Maintenance Zones relaxed Feb. 24 - 28.