Ft. McMurray Wildfire Evacuees Begin to Return
Evacuees who fled the huge wildfire that hit Ft McMurray are slowly returning homes and facing cleaning up and uncertainty over their safety as the devastated Canadian Oil city starts on the rebuilding path.
More than 90,000 residents fled the Northern Alberta city as the fire hit 4 weeks ago, leaving entire neighborhoods burned out in its wake. Officials expected 14,000 to 15,000 to return Wednesday as the 2-week staged re-entry to the city has started.
The wildfire, which destroyed about 10% of the city’s homes, was a blow to a community reeling from a 2-year Crude Oil price slump. It shuttered more than 1-M BPD of Crude Oil production, though some production facilities have already resumed operations.
At one of the information centers in downtown Ft. McMurray returning residents picked up bottled water, toiletries and cleaning kits.
Thanks to a specially built government website, residents know whether their houses are standing, but not how much smoke, ash and dirt seeped in during the wildfire.
Scorched trees lined Highway 63, the only route into the city. On 1 overpass, a huge Canadian flag hung between 2 fire trucks. Billboards along the road welcome residents back home.
Authorities told those returning to bring 2 weeks’ worth of food, water and prescription medication. Returnees have also been told to scrub walls, and clean all clothing and bedding, upholstery of items that remained in their houses during the evacuation.
The area is under a “boil” water advisory and the local hospital’s capabilities are limited. Some stores were open Wednesday, smoke in the air.
Remember, when traveling in forest and Fire Danger Zone take extreme care, lives and property depend on it.