UPDATED: Fort McMurray fire continues to grow

A Mountie surveys the damage on a street in Fort McMurray. | Photo courtesy @RCMPAlberta via Twitter

UPDATED:  May 6, 2016 – 1500 CST

The Fort McMurray fire continues to burn out of control today and covers an area of about 250,000 acres.

Strong winds are moving the fire to the southeast of the city and into the forest.

The province is offering financial assistance of $1,250 per adult and $500 per dependant to help meet immediate needs.

Money is expected to start arriving by May  11, said Albert Premier Rachel Notley.

A province-wide fire ban remains effect and recreationists are advised to stay out of the forested areas due to the threat.

Fort McMurray remains under evacuation orders as firefighters attempt to control the fire within the city.

Downtown, the municipal airport and hospital are intact and the water treatment centre is running.

Canadian Armed Forces are present to provide fire reconnaissance to support provincial authorities and moving essential equipment to isolated locations with military helicopters and a Hercules transport plane. Fire surveillance is provided at night to give early warning of changes Ground troops have not been called in yet.

The fire is expected to keep growing, said Chad Morrison of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Wildfire Compliance and Investigations Manager

“This fire will continue to burn for a very long time until we see significant rain. Once we see that rain, we will still need those firefighters to get out there,” he said.

The Slave Lake wildfire was driven by wind whereas this fire is driven by fuel from trees and undergrowth. There has been no moisture in the region for two months.

Because residents had minutes to leave concerns have been raised about pets and livestock.

Evacuees who had to leave animals at home can call 780-788-4200, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

•    A number of veterinary practices across Alberta are offering their help and they can be found at www.albertaanimalhealthsource.ca/content/alberta-veterinary-practices-offering-assistance-fort-mcmurray-evacuees

•    The Alberta SPCA is co-ordinating support for livestock, which is expected to involve mostly horses. The organization will also assist if evacuees bring horses or other livestock with them to Northlands in Edmonton.

•    The Edmonton Humane Society and Edmonton’s Animal Care and Control Centre are co-ordinating animal care for people arriving in Edmonton, with assistance from the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association.

The Alberta Equestrian Federation provided the following information:

Emergency funds are needed for feed, water, transportation and veterinary care. The AEF will match donations received up to $5,000. Donations of other items will be required at a later date to assist with recovery and replacement and the AEF will help with this coordination as well.

Anyone interested in providing aid in the form of a monetary donation, feel free to forward an etransfer (security answer: fortmacequine) to Email: info@albertaequestrian.com or contact the office: Rita, 403-253-4411 ext. 7 or toll-free: 1-877-463-6233 ext. 7.

The Canadian Red Cross is accepting donations via phone, online or through text message. Details can be found at www.redcross.ca

Wildfire related information is also available toll free at 310-4455 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Contact barbara.duckworth@producer.com


Posted May 6, 2016 – 1200 CST

The wildfire in the Fort McMurray continues to burn out of control and has consumed more than 85,000 hectares, an area the equivalent of the city of Calgary.

This is the most recent update from the province of Alberta:

Current situation

•    A provincially declared state of emergency for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is in effect.

•    Fire conditions remain extreme, with 18 new starts across Alberta yesterday. A total of 49 wildfires are burning, with seven considered out of control, 12 being held, 23 under control and seven turned over to the responsible parties.

•    Cooler temperatures of 16 C are predicted, but lower humidity and winds at 25 km-h, gusting to 40 km-h, make weather a significant factor.

•    More than 1,110 firefighters, 145 helicopters, 138 pieces of heavy equipment and 22 air tankers are fighting the fires.

•    Mandatory evacuation orders are in place for Fort McMurray, Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates, Fort McMurray First Nation and Mackenzie County near High Level. Residents of evacuated areas should not attempt to return home.

•    Emergency gas and diesel are temporarily available along Highway 63.

•    Albertans can call 310-4455 for information and stay up to date on the Alberta Emergency Alert and Alberta Wildfire apps.

Evacuation information

Emergency fuel stations are operating in safety rest areas in the following locations on Highway 63:

•    approximately 60 km south of Fort McMurray (Kilometre 186)

•    approximately 100 km south of Fort McMurray at Mariana Lakes (Kilometre 130)

•    approximately 165 km south of Fort McMurray (Kilometre 85)

There are currently 11 reception centres operating within the province. Additional details are available on the Alberta government emergency updates website:

•    Fort McKay – Fort McKay Business Centre

•    Lac La Biche – The Bolt Centre – 8702-91 Avenue

•    Edmonton – Northlands Grounds, Hall A – 7515-118 Avenue

•    St Paul – Centennial Recreation Centre – 4802-53 Street

•    Grasslands – Community Hall, Main Street

•    Drayton Valley – Omniplex – 5737-45 Avenue

•    Smokey Lake Reception Centre

•    SAIT – Residence Tower 151 Dr. Carpenter Circle NW *For Suncor Employees and Evacuees in camps

•    Fort Chippewan Reception Centre  *For First Nation Band Members only

•    Town of Athabasca Reception Centre – Athabasca Multiplex, #2 University Drive

All evacuees (whether they’re staying at hotels, in campgrounds or with family or friends) need to register by calling the Red Cross at 888-350-6070. This will ensure officials know how to reach you and verify you got out safely. Evacuees staying at reception centres can register reception centre staff.

Information for affected residents

Area camps that get water from EPCOR or any provider other than the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo are not affected and do not need to boil water at this time.

Please Note: Fort McKay residents do not need to boil water prior to using. This boil water advisory excludes Fort McKay.

Closures and affected services

•    All provincial offices in Fort McMurray are closed due to the evacuation.

•    The unpredictable situation caused by wildfire is causing periodic closures on Highway 63 and Highway 881. Both highways are open to southbound traffic with spot closures as conditions require. Northbound traffic is restricted to emergency vehicles and other essential travel at the junction of Highway 63/881.

•    There are traffic controls in place at the Highway 63/881 junction. Priority is given to emergency responders. Southbound traffic is allowed.

•    Traffic controls are also in place at the Highway 63/69 (Airport Road) junction and the Highway 63/Parsons Creek Interchange.

•    Traffic is allowed to flow out of Fort McMurray but only emergency responders and disaster relief efforts are allowed to travel into the city.

Public Information

You can call 310-4455, open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. for wildfire related information.

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