The Latest on the Ft. McMurray Wildfire
In Alberta, Canada there is a Province wide ban on open fires, including campfires and the use of charcoal briquettes.
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went to Fort McMurray Friday to survey the damage firsthand and meet with emergency responders.
- He was also meeting Alberta Premier Rachel Notley in Edmonton.
- As crews continue to put out fires in the city’s Northend, Alberta officials said Thursday they can’t comment for another two weeks or so on when residents might return.
- In the meantime, Ft. McMurray evacuees stand to get about $2,000 each in aid through assistance organized by the Red Cross and the province.
- Enbridge, Canada’s largest pipeline company, said Thursday that it’s steadily resuming service on its pipeline network.
- Here’s a broader look at the fire’s impact on the oil patch, which may lose $760-million worth of production this month.
Displaced Ft. McMurray residents are getting more resources to help ease their predicament. The Canadian government says it will work to speed up employment insurance claims, Canada Post has announced a mail forwarding program free of charge for Ft McMurray and area residents, and Western Union is waiving money-transfer fees so Canadians can send money to Alberta more easily.
Here’s Marina Strauss’s report on how retailers, pharmacists and others are offering services for those in need.
With graduation season coming up soon, the fire scuttled many Fort McMurray teenagers’ prom plans. A Facebook group is helping women to donate dresses to those who need them.
Officials in Saskatchewan were anxiously monitoring fires in northern Alberta.
By Thursday, the fire was about 13 kilometres from the Saskatchewan border. A fire ban in the northwest forest of Saskatchewan is in place until there is significant rainfall. For details and a map, visit the Province’s website. Many municipalities have also put in place fire bans.
Ft McMurray’s forecast for the next few days is mostly Sunny.
Temperatures will begin to climb again over the weekend after a cool period that offered some relief in the firefighting efforts. But officials have also said it will take a significant amount of rain to put out the fires for good, and there is none forecast for the week ahead.
Check here for the latest weather forecasts in Alberta.
Environment Canada has put the area under a special air-quality alert. Smoke from the fires was creating poor air quality and reduced visibility in parts of Alberta and could cause problems for children, seniors and those with respiratory health issues.
An estimated 2,432 homes and other structures have been destroyed, and many of the buildings still standing have suffered smoke damage. To put that in perspective, this fire has burned down 6X more homes than the Y 2011 fire in Slave Lake, Alta., which destroyed 400 buildings at an insurance cost of $700-M.
One analyst from the Bank of Montreal estimated insurance losses could exceed $9-B in the Ft. McMurray fire.
Officials have said that, even though the fire has largely pushed through Fort McMurray, the town is still too dangerous to enter. Fire chief Darby Allen said many buildings lack essential services.
Large areas of town have no power, water or gas, he said. Provincial officials said displaced people would be better off driving to cities such as Calgary, where health and social services were better.
The Alberta government warned that it will take time to repair water, gas, electricity and other infrastructure, and to make the city safe for residents to return.
Oil companies aimed to quickly restart production and help the region rebuild.
Among evacuees, there were tales of escape and hardship, as government and aid groups tried get financial assistance to those who needed it the most.
Remember, when traveling in Fire Danger Areas take extreme care, your life and community depend on it.