Fort McMurray under Mandatory Evacuation Order

The entire town of Fort McMurray Alberta is under an evacuation order.  The order came Tuesday as firefighters battled a wildfire threatening the town.  Evacuation orders were being issued Monday on an area-by-area basis.

The fire worsened overnight Monday.  By Tuesday residents of Abasand, Grayling Terrace, and Beacon Hill were under mandatory evacuation orders and had to be ready to leave within 30 minutes.  MacDonald Island Park has been set-up as a reception centre.  Tuesday evening, the evacuation order was broadened to include the entire city of 60,000 people.  80% of the Beacon Hill neighbourhood has been destroyed.

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Media reports say approximately 17,000 residents fled north, while 35,000 went south.  Current numbers put the fire at 2,656 hectares in size.  80 firefighters are fighting the fire right now.  Fire Chief Darby Allen has asked for the army’s assistance in fighting the blaze.  The next update from authorities is scheduled  for 11am MT today.   Residents meanwhile are asked to stay tuned to the twitter feeds: @FM_EmergService, @RMWoodBuffalo, and @RMWBEmergMngt for updated information.

The mandatory evacuation order remains in effect. Residents in the Gregoire neighbourhood are being asked to go south, while all other residents are directed to head north.  Noralta Lodge has been set-up to provide more direction to further accommodation.

The Red Cross has been put on standby to offer their assistance.  They are asking for donations, and have set-up an emergency appeal page through their website.

Update: 12:30pm MT, (2:30pm EDT) Air Quality, Boil Water warnings and Travel Restrictions:

Environment Canada has issued a special Air Quality statement for the area surrounding Fort McMurray.  Smoke from the wildfire is producing poor air quality, and reduced visibility.  Residents with illnesses such as asthma, and C.O.P.D. are considered especially sensitive to these conditions.  Others may experience  symptoms such as: throat irritation, shortness of breath, or headaches.  An advisory to boil water has been issued as of 11am MT (1pm EDT) for the entire region including Fort McMurray.  All non-essential travel is restricted on highways 63 and 81.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement telling of the beginnings of the federal response.  They have mobilized a CC-130 Hercules with a crew from Trenton to help fight the blaze.  The Canadian Forces announced CH-146 helicopters are being deployed to help in response to a request from the Department of Public Safety.  The fire has now topped 10,000 hectares, and destroyed over 1600 homes.

Update: May 5, 2016- 8:40am MDT (10:40am EDT):

Critical Update from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (R.M.W.B.): Forestry Alberta recommends a mandatory evacuation order for: Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates, and the Fort McMurray First Nation.  Buses are being organized, and the R.C.M.P are going door-to-door.  The fire is also spreading south raising the possibility of more evacuations.  The Province of Alberta has declared a State of Emergency.

Emergency Personnel board a flight to Fort McMurray
Emergency Personnel board a flight to Fort McMurray

Relief efforts continue.  Ontario is sending 100 firefighters to help fight the blaze due to leave Friday.  Offers of help are coming from Ottawa, and Toronto.  The federal government has promised to match any donations made to the Red Cross relief effort.  Please see the link above if you wish to do so.  The International Development Relief Fund’s Calgary chapter (I.D.R.F.) has set-up a relief fund.   WestJet has made a donation of $25,000, and has helped evacuate area hospitals, and fly in aid.

Today’s forecast shows a 30% chance of showers with partly cloudy conditions.  Highs over the next seven days are between 11 and 25 degrees Celcius.  The possibility of rain shows a 30% chance on Monday.

Update: 10pm MDT (12am EDT)

Mandatory evacuation orders continue for parts of Fort McMurray.  Anzac, and Gregoire Lake Estates are both considered “active zones.”  No further information will be available until morning.  Minor damage to the airport has been reported.  Some evacuees are being flown out from runways at the oil sands’ facilities.   Highway 63 remains closed to the public.  As of 5:15pm today gas and diesel is available at locations 60 km south of the city, and 100 km south of the city at Mariana Lakes, and also at 165 km south.

The province of Alberta is reporting that 18 new fires have started across the province.  Premier Rachel Notley admitted “the city is not safe for residents at this time.”  Wild Rose Party Leader Brian Jean whose riding takes in Fort McMurray is expecting to lose his home.  Winds have made fighting the flames tough for firefighters.  The fire has now topped 85,000 hectares.

Syrian Refugees in Calgary have started fundraising efforts.  The images of Fort McMurray made Rita Khanchet think of the war-torn country she escaped.  “Canada gave us everything, and now it’s time to return the favour,” she wrote in a Facebook post.  It was shared, and her fellow refugees felt the same way.  They decided to donate $5 each to buy hygiene products.

The province of Alberta is also promising to match donations.

Update: May 6: 9:30am MDT (11:30am EDT):

The fire has increased to 100,000 hectares.  The RCMP is evacuating 1500 cars in convoys of 50 from Highway 63 north of the city; these are the people stranded at work camps in the oil sands. The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo expects the process to take four days. The convoys are driving through the city via Highway 63 southbound and will not shift from that route.  Registration for the convoys is taking place at the northern evacuation sites.

The province of Alberta is asking evacuees to register with the Red Cross. They can do so either online, or by calling: 1-888-350-6070.  Family members looking to reunite are also being told to contact the Red Cross. Various hotels in Calgary, and Edmonton have rooms available at compassionate rates.  Availability, and contact information can be found here.

Update: 2:30pm MDT (4:30pm EDT)

12 buildings in Anzac are gone.  The fire hasn’t yet reached Gregoire Lake Estates or the Fort McMurray First Nation.  1200-1400 cars have passed through Fort McMurray from the north.  The fate of vehicles remaining from those who were flown out of the work camps remains unknown.  The evacuation has been stopped due to winds out of the southwest.

The Alberta Government will allow evacuees to replace their ID and any birth certificates for free at any registry location.  Premier Rachel Notley gave an update at 1pm MDT (3pm EDT).  “We have been fighting the fire using every firefighting tool imaginable,” Notley assured.  Read her full statement here.

GlobalTV Calgary has compiled a full list of where evacuees and get help, and information.  Post a comment if you want to add your business to any of the categories listed.

Red Cross fundraising is now over $30 million for the appeal.

Update: 8pm MDT (10pm EDT):

Fort Saskatchewan Slow Pitch Association (FSMSPA) is offering evacuees land to park RVS or Camp units.  As of 1 hour ago they were working with the City of Fort Saskatchewan to designate space.  Contact them via email: ymmfire@fsmspa.ca or text: YMMFIRE to 587-400-7756, or call: 587-400-7Slo

Edmonton is preparing for an influx of evacuees.  1900 people have cots assigned for them in the Expo Centre.  They are getting extras from Ottawa, and Vancouver, and that will increase the number of cots to 4,400.

The fire itself is expected to double in size to 200,000 hectares.  Some hot spots have been identified in downtown Fort McMurray.  An Emergency Management Official is quoted as saying: “You need to get out of the downtown core if that’s where you are. The province of Alberta has placed a province-wide ban on fires, and has asked Albertans to go a little easier on the ATVs.  Premier Rachel Notley has announced her government has authorized a plan to give $1250 to each adult, plus $500 for each dependent.

The Toronto Blue Jays have launched an online auction of autographed memorabilia, with all the proceeds going to the Red Cross Relief appeal for Fort McMurray.   Items up for auction include autographed bats from José Bautista, Russell Martin, and Michael Saunders. Visit this link to find out what else you can bid on.

Evacuees are starting to rediscover their sense of humour.  One post on the Facebook group “Controversial humour” shows what some people have thought to bring with them out of their homes.  One woman posted about bringing Kraft Cheese Slices, and snow pants saying “I left my childhood photos, but thank god for cheese.  I have one pair of pants, and one pair of snow pants.”  Other oddball items include: a Bear’s head, and Raj Binder (Sean Majumder) doll.  The full story is on CBC Edmonton’s website.

Update: May 7, 2016: 11:30am MDT (1:30pm EDT):

The RCMP continues to evacuate cars from the north down to the south travelling through Fort McMurray.  Vehicles will not be allowed to leave Highway 63.  A refuelling station has reopened on Highway 63 north of the city at the Suncor interchange.  They will be monitoring the weather changes.

The RCMP also begins a house-to-house search, and have already visited 30% of the homes in the city.  The fires are expected to double going to 200,000 square kms. by the end of today.  Suncor has shut down locations at Firebag, and McKay River taking approximately 237,000 barrels per day out of circulation.

An official statement of support from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  “I encourage everyone to make a donation to http://www.redcross.ca and help the thousands of displaced residents.”  The federal government, and government of Alberta have pledged to match all donations to the Red Cross.  The federal government will backdate it to May 3, and end it May 31.  The total raised so far is $30 million when matched becomes $90 million.  Adding their voices of support are the Western Premiers.

An offer of help to evacuees seeking shelter: Peace River has hotel rooms available for those able to go west from Fort McMurray.  Tribute concerts organized as far away as Sydney, Nova Scotia (May 15), and St. John’s Newfoundland (May 20).

Update: 2:30pm MDT (4:30 pm EDT):

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo has issued an “Evacuation preparedness alert” involving work camps on both sides of Highway 63 between Fort McMurray and Aostra Rd.  Those living in this area need to be prepared to evacuate on 2 hours notice.  There is no need to leave at this time.

Update: 9:10pm MDT (11:10 pm EDT)

The Evacuation Preparedness Alert has been expanded to include camps on both sides between the Parsons Creek Interchange north as far as, and including the Ruth Lake Lodge interchange.  Those who live in this are to be prepared to leave with 2 hours notice.  Convoys from the north began at 6am local time this morning, and are expected to finish by the end of the day.  A total of 2400 cars have so far been able to travel through Fort McMurray.

The fire is expected to reach 200,000 hectares by midnight local time.  Authorities are aware of fires approaching the Alberta border from British Columbia, and are preparing to fight them from the Alberta side.  Rain is possible for tomorrow.  Debit cards are to be issued beginning  this week.  $1250 for each adult plus $500 for each dependant.

Evacuees may not be allowed back to Fort McMurray for a long time.  Students are being encouraged to enroll, and continue with schooling.  More information is available here.  The province of Alberta is planning for re-entry into Fort McMurray.  “Once immediate fire damage is contained, there will be an enormous amount of work to do,” Premier Rachel Notley admitted.

Update: May 8, 2016 2:30 MDT (4:30pm EDT)

The airspace approximately 3,000 ft.  above Fort McMurray has been closed.  The closure applies to the entire municipality of Wood Buffalo and includes a 5 nautical mile boundary around the active fire zone.  It applies to all non-authorized aircraft including drones, and UAVs.   No flying is permitted without authorization by the Emergency Operations Centre.  Violation will result in seizure of property and criminal charges.

The fire sits at 161000 hectares today.  The area did receive some rain.  “The sight of rain has never been so good,” came the official tweet from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (R.M.W.B.).  Winds are expected to be 40-60km/hr today.  Last evening saw the evacuation of another work camp at Fort McMurray village.  Syncrude has evacuated their entire facility but were forced to abandon their bison.

SyncrudeBison
Syncrude Bison

Premier Rachel Notley has planned a visit to Fort McMurray for tomorrow.  Wild Rose Party Leader Brian Jean’s home is now confirmed to have burned down.  Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has promised the federal government’s support for as long as needed.  Responders have been doing a house-to-house search of the remaining homes in the city.

Fundraising support is beginning to trickle in from outside Canada.  The New York Comedy Club in downtown Manhattan is hosting a stand-up comedy benefit on Monday.  Proceeds will go to the Canadian Red Cross.

It is Mother’s Day.  One evacuation centre at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology  (S.A.I.T.) in Calgary  has planned a Mother’s Day Brunch.

Update: 9:30pm MDT (11:30 EDT)

25,000 residents who fled north from Fort McMurray have been officially been evacuated.  Nobody is left in the camps.  1500 Syncrude employees have been evacuated, and the facility closed.  The fire is expected to continue growing overnight, and may eventually reach the Saskatchewan border.   Firefighters from Ontario have arrived to help with the blaze.

Employees have also been evacuated from the Husky, Suncor, Shell and CNRL facilities.  Some are still operating.  Premier Rachel Notley is expecting to update on the state of the oil sands Tuesday.  The province is helping address concerns over pets left behind through the SPCA.  Use the link to register your pet.

First Responders staying at Noralta Lodge were evacuated to Fort McMurray meaning the city is now considered safe for them.  Work on restoring the city’s power grid and gas infrastructure continues.

Update: May 9, 2016 9:30am MDT (11:30am EDT)

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (R.M.W.B.) has set up an online form for an Emergency pet rescue.  Those worried about their pets are invited to fill it out.  Premier Rachel Notley will be visiting Fort McMurray today.  Media will be getting their first official look at the city.

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Red Cross confirmation email

Evacuees are being asked to register with the with the Red Cross by 11:59pm tonight.  Click here to do so.  Please click the link within the email to “confirm your information.”

Today’s forecast will be cloudy with a high of 11 Celsius.  Winds are expected at 20 km/hr. out of the northwest with gusts of 35km/hour.  There is a 30% chance of rain today.

Update: 5:30pm MDT (7:30pm EDT):

Premier Rachel Notley led press, and officials on a tour of the city of Fort McMurray.  Fire Chief Darby Allen says 85% of Fort McMurray is still standing.  2400 structures in, and around the city were destroyed in the fires. There are large parts of the city without gas or water, and the infrastructure still needs to be assessed for safety purposes before residents are allowed back.  A potential schedule for re-entry into Fort McMurray could be available within two weeks.  “It is a home you will return to,” Notley vowed at a press conference.

The fire is up to 204,000 hectares, and is within 30kms of the Saskatchewan border.  It is considered out of control.  Allen told reporters on the bus he’d never seen a fire like it.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has refused outside aid for now.

Air bnb is waiving all booking fees for evacuees until May 21, 2016.  Click here for accommodations in Northern Alberta, and here for rooms available in Calgary.  Evacuees also have until 11:59 tonight to confirm their registration with the Red Cross.

The man behind the Municipality of Wood Buffalo has been revealed.  Jordan Redshaw has been tweeting from the twitter handle @RMWoodBuffalo.  The story here.

Update: May 10, 2016 4:30pm MDT (6:30pm EDT)

Two fires have merged into one, and remain 30kms away from the Saskatchewan border.  90% of the buildings in the city of Fort McMurray were saved.  The oil sands are returning to normal.  Royal Dutch Oil became the first to resume production.  The fire is now 229,000 hectares.  Premier Rachel Notley estimates it would take weeks of work before the city is safe.  She confirmed that it would take 2 weeks before a re-entry schedule was presented.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially declined offers of international help saying none was needed at this point.  There are 1547 firefighters fighting the fire along with 28 water tankers, 121 helicopters, and 94 pieces of heavy equipment.  Trudeau announced earlier today in the House of Commons he would be visiting the city on Friday.

Evacuees are being urged to register with the Red Cross to get aid.  The confirmation email is pictured in the previous post.  Some evacuation centres are reporting people with symptoms consistent with viral gastroenteritis.  Alberta Health Services is deploying public health personnel to help manage the ill, and prevent the spread.  The province is also offering a 24-hour mental health hotline for affected residents.  The phone number is: 1-877-303-2642.

Canada Post has announced a free mail-forwarding service.  Information at this link.  The entire area remains under a mandatory evacuation order.

Update: May 11, 2016 10:30am MDT (12:30pm EDT):

Travel into Fort McMurray along highways 63, and 881 is restricted to essential travel.  The RCMP have a control point for northbound traffic at an oversized rest stop 8km south of the city.  All vehicles travelling into the city must check in for a permit.  Highway 881 is closed in both directions between the highway 63 junction, and mile marker 217 due to the wildfire.  Essential travel includes industrial, and commercial vehicles carrying equipment and supplies necessary for the oil sands to resume operations.

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) will convene a council meeting today at Edmonton City Hall at 1pm MT.  Evacuees are invited to attend, however space is limited.  Watch the meeting online here.

The weather today is expected to be mostly cloudy with a high of 11 degrees Celsius.  Winds are forecast to be 20km/hr with gusts of 32 km/hr.

Update: May 12, 2016: 8:30pm MDT (10:30pm EDT):

The province of Alberta began distributing their debit cards.  Evacuees are being asked to not take the cards if they do not need them.    Some locations such as one in Lac LaBich  are prioritizing the evacuees that are staying there.  The Canadian Red Cross is distributing $50 million to evacuees.

“I know how strong it is- the desire to return home in the aftermath of an event like this, to be back home to start putting your life back together,” Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee said.  The first priority is to stabilize the community, and re-establish water electricity and gas.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also announced a federal plan.  Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose was applauded for her leadership in the House of Commons today.

Update: May 13, 2016: 8:30pm MDT (10:30pm EDT)

There is an Air Quality advisory for the province of Alberta because of the wildfires.  The province suggests people take precautions against the health risks associated with bad air.  People with breathing problems such as Asthma are advised to stay inside, and limit their time outdoors.

The Regional Emergency Response Centre in the municipality of Wood Buffalo is being overwhelmed with offers of help.  They are working on a way to take some up on their offers.  To offer your resources click here

Fort Mackay is under a “recommended evacuation order.” Anzac, Fort McMurray, Gregoire Lakes Estates, and Fort McMurray First Nations are all still under mandatory evacuation orders.  The province of Alberta is starting a “back burn” along the west side of highway 63 between Mariana Lake and the junction with 881 to reduce fuel for the fires.

A telephone Town Hall has been scheduled from 7-8:30pm on Monday May 16.  The province will be able to announce details of a re-entry plan within 10 days.  Re-entry depends on the following 5 factors:

  • Wildfire is no longer an imminent threat to the community
  • Critical infrastructure is repaired to provide basic service
  • Essential services, such as fire, EMS, police and healthcare are restored to a basic level
  • Hazardous areas are secure. There are 100 truckloads of fencing being sent to Fort McMurray.
  • Local government is re-established

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau toured Fort McMurray today to view to view the damage.  Trudeau announced the addition of three new EI regions including Edmonton.

The fire didn’t grow yesterday.  The weather tomorrow will be 20 degrees Celcius, and sunny.  Winds will be out of the northwest at 10km/hour without gusts.

Rad Brothers in Milton Ontario is holding a fundraiser with House of Chords Music Centre.  Come enjoy some local music for a $10 cover charge.  The restaurant will be giving 15% of its food and drink as well.  More info on our Facebook Page. 

Update: May 14 8pm MT (10pm EDT):

Canada Task Force Two (Can-TF2) has been deployed as part of the recovery effort.  This unit has one of 4 Heavy Urban Search and Rescue (H.U.S.A.R.)  Can-TF2 is deployed to help in many man-made and natural disasters.

Fire Chief Darby Allen announced he’s taking a break to reconnect with family.  His message is below.

Tomorrow will be sunny with a high of 23 Celcius, and 5km/hr winds.  No rain is forecast.

 

Update: May 15, 2016 10pm MDT (12am EDT):

Fire today sits at 251,000 hectares, and is still considered “out of control.”  Back burn is still in progress along the same routes as described previously.  If evacuees were forced abandon cars along Highway  63 south of the junction with highway 881 are asked to call: 1-877-671-2717 to confirm your vehicle is at Wandering River Yard (approx. 230 kms north of Edmonton).  Anyone looking to recover vehicles on highway 881 or on highway 63 north of the junction are asked to call: 310-4455.  This includes anyone forced to leave a car in the city of Forth McMurray.

A telephone town hall is scheduled for tomorrow (May 16) between 7-8:30pm.  They will be inviting those registered with the Red Cross to participate.  The Province of Alberta has provided satellite maps of the city.  To view them click here.  You will be asked to agree to the terms of service.  Warning: some of the images are potentially graphic.  Structures that are viewed as still standing are not to be considered undamaged.

No rain in the forecast until Wednesday.  Syrian refugees in Edmonton are raising money as well  for Fort McMurray.  The story here.

Update: May 16, 2016: 6pm MDT (8pm EDT):

The fires around Fort McMurray are sitting at 284,000 hectares.  Authorities had to abandon vehicle retrieval operations north of the city due to smoke.  Anyone looking to claim their cars are asked to check the website in order to see when it will be safe to resume operations.   There are 300 ATCO employees working to re-establish critical infrastructure.  “Work has been progressing on all these fronts, in some cases faster than expected. But this remains an active fire zone, with significant air-quality concerns that may delay recovery work and a return to the community.”  Premier Rachel Notley said.

As of 2:30pm MT (4:30pm ET) evacuations began at work camps off Aostra Rd due to a fire tracking north towards Tower Rd.  It’s fast-moving taking 30-40 metres/ minute.  Evacuations are happening at the following camps:

  • Noralta
  • Poplar Creek (Birch)
  • Poplar Creek Lodge
  • Blacksands
  • Baseline
  • Mackay River
  • Brion Dover
  • Brion Ops Corp Camp
  • Brion Construction Camp B
  • STP Mackay Lodge
  • Brion Dover South Base (Thickwood)
  • South Pacific Resources

Authorities are stopping all traffic from entering Fort McMurray via highway 63 north.  Highway 881 remains closed.  4,000 people at Syncrude & Suncor are involved in a voluntary evacuation.  The fire is approximately 20 km south of the oil sands  Conditions are expected to cool down by 8pm MT.

300 firefighters are stationed in Timberlea fighting the flames.

Update 2: 9:30pm MT (11:30pm EDT):

Muster points for municipal staff
Muster points for municipal staff

As of an hour ago the fire was 5km away from Timberlea, but running parallel to the area.  300 people including utility workers are being asked to assemble at McDonald Island.  500-600 people are being evacuated from work camps along Astora Rd to the Syncrude and Suncor facilities.  Syncrude and Suncor are under voluntary evacuations only.

All non-essential employees working outside of the Regional Emergency Operations Centre (REOC) or South Operations Centre (SOC) should muster to MacDonald Island or Fire Hall #5.  A map of muster points:

May 17: 2:30pm MT (4:30pm EDT)

There was a fire in the Slin Forest area overnight.  Three complexes were involved, with one fourplex being reported as destroyed.  An explosion in Dickensfield destroyed one home overnight, and damaged seven nearby.  Both are under investigation.

Fires continue to affect the oil sands.  It destroyed work camps at BlackSands Executive Lodge owned by Horizion Logstics.

Suncor has evacuated all personnel from Base Plant and MacKay River with the exception of Emergency Personnel.  Its Firebag facility is being moved to a minimum personnel situation; all non-essential staff are being flown out of the area.  Staff at their Fort Hills personnel are being asked to remain at the site.  A total of 19 work camps and 8,000 people have been affected.

Highway 63 north, and south at Suncor interchange is closed.  Convoys bussing personnel out of the area are reportedly being aided by the RCMP.  Flights continue in, and out of the area.  Noralta Lodge is also at risk.

These developments are forcing the province to re-evaluate their plans for re-entry into the community.

Update: May 18, 2016 7:30pm MT (9:30 pm ET):

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has announced a voluntary “phased-in” re-entry plan will begin June 1, 2016.  Tentative dates are as follows:

June 1: Lower townsite, Anzac, and First Nations’

June 2:  North Fort McMurray, Timberlea, and Thickwood

June 3: South Fort McMurray, Gregoire, Saline Creek

June 4: Abersand, Beacon Hill, and Sapare Creek

These could change depending on the fires, and conditions within the town.

The fire still threatens the oil sands region.  7 of 8 Horizon Oil work camps have been evacuated.  Tomorrow will be cloudy with showers, and a high of 16 Celsius.  Winds will be 20km/ hr, coming from the north with gusts to 33 km/hr. There is a 60% chance of rain.

Update May 19: 10pm MT (12am ET):

The fire is now over 500,000 hectares in size. It crossed the Saskatchewan border burning 700 hectares.  La Loche Saskatchewan is the nearest town.  The oil sands remain in the path of the wildfire.  It came close to Northland Mill, Noralta Lodge, Syncrude, and Suncor sites but failed to breach vegetation.  19 camps remain in mandatory evacuation status.

View from Saskatchewan
View from Saskatchewan

A fire destroyed 5 units in a 400 block complex on Silin Forest Drive.  This the second fire in the area; the first attacked seven units (one fourplex and three separate units) which were burned down.  The cause of both are still under investigation.

Highway 881 is now open, however there is no access to Fort McMurray.  Electricity has been restored to 90% of the town, while gas has been restored to 75%.  The forecast calls for rain 3 out of the next 7 days.

Update: May 20, 2016 8:30 MT (10:30 EDT):

The fire shrunk from 505,645 to 503,671 because of cooler conditions.  Fort McMurray has received no direct rainfall.  Smoke is a bigger problem in Saskatchewan. 1,000 firefighters are expected in Fort McMurray within the next two weeks.  The fire is roughly the size of Saskatchewan.

Vehicle retrival continued today.  Highway 63 is open but controlled.  Work will restart on restoring power to Fort McMurray.   Suncor, and Syncrude remain under mandatory evacuation.  Suncor Humanitarian Grants program is matching all employee, contractor, and retiree contributions to the Canadian Red Cross, and the United Way of Fort McMurray.

The Alberta government is introducing temporary housing support in the form of a “Wildfire Evacuee Transitional Accommodation” benefit.  The money will cover rent, damage deposit, and utility connections for up to 90 days post evacuation.  To be eligible you must meet the following three criteria:

  • Must be over 18. Only one adult may apply per household.
  • Must be for residence or accommodation needs in Alberta.
  • Must have no insurance or insufficient insurance to pay for housing needs

Those eligible can call 310-4455 and apply in person at Alberta Works’ Offices

Message from Her Majesty_Wild Fires in FortMcMurray_FINAL01.indd

@RMWoodBuffalo tweeted out an image of a note from Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip expressing their thoughts, and sadness at the situation.