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Fort McMurray Wildfire (May 9 at 7:15 p.m.)

Today, Premier Notley delivered the following update on the wildfires around Fort McMurray:

“To residents affected by the wildfires: We’ve lost about 2,400 structures, but we saved almost 25,000. It’s not yet safe to return. But it will be made safe. It will be a home you return to. All of Alberta will have your back until that work is done.”

- Premier Notley

Current situation

  • Fire conditions remain extreme in the province.
  • A total of 29 wildfires are burning, with two out of control, one being held, 21 under control and five turned over to the responsible parties.
  • Currently there are 1,547 firefighters; 121 helicopters; 194 pieces of heavy equipment; and 28 air tankers battling the fires.
  • Fort McMurray wildfire is currently approximately 204,000 hectares and is anticipated to grow by Tuesday.
  • The wildfire is approximately 25 to 30 kilometres from the Saskatchewan boundary.
  • Mental health support is available by calling Alberta’s 24-hour Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642.
  • AHS has health care teams at several evacuation/reception centres call Health Link Toll-free by dialing 811 or the Mental Health Helpline at 1-877-303-2642.

Additional updates

Emergency Financial Assistance – Debit Cards:

  • $1,250 per adult and $500 per dependent in emergency financial assistance will be provided to people who have been displaced.
  • This assistance will likely be provided in the form of pre-loaded debit cards.
  • Details on when this assistance will be available and how to get access to it will be available beginning on May 11, 2016.  Government of Alberta offices will not have additional information until this time. When details are available they will be posted on this page and will be available through 310-4455.
  • In order to allow for immediate distribution to people who are most urgently in need of this assistance, we're asking evacuees who aren't in dire need of these funds to not claim them immediately.

Evacuation information:

  • Several people are experiencing symptoms consistent with viral gastroenteritis at the Northlands reception centre and Lister Hall transitional shelter.
  • Alberta Health Services has Public Health and Infection Prevention and Control staff at the locations to manage the increased numbers of ill people and to prevent spread.
  • The urban Fort McMurray area remains under a mandatory evacuation order. The communities of Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates and Fort McMurray First Nation are included.
  • The 25,000 evacuees north of Fort McMurray are now safely south of the city. They made their way via ground and air transport.
  • Although no further vehicles are assembled for convoy, the service will continue as needed.
  • There are currently 13 reception centres operating within the province. Additional details are available on the Alberta government emergency updates website: www.alberta.ca/emergency.
  • Preliminary re-entry planning is underway; a schedule for re-entry is expected within two weeks.
  • Albertans can stay up-to-date on wildfire-related information by calling 310-4455 in Alberta; 1-844-406-3276, and on the Alberta Emergency Alert and Alberta Wildfire apps.

Information for affected residents:

  • Telephone town halls for evacuees have been scheduled from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday May 9, Tuesday May 10, Wednesday May 11 and Thursday, May 12.
  • All evacuees are encouraged to participate and receive information on important topics such as accessing pre-paid debit cards and progress being made to battle the fires.
  • Evacuees who have registered their cell phone numbers and emergency contact numbers with the Red Cross will be phoned before 7:00 p.m. on the evening of a call. 
  • A transitional shelter plan is being developed for those displaced by the wildfires. Anyone at a reception centre, community centre or hotel is asked to stay where they are for now.  We are working to move people to more comfortable, transitional accommodations as quickly as possible.
  • All evacuees should register with the Red Cross – no matter where you are currently. This will help ensure you have access to the services you may need, including access to emergency financial assistance. Register:
  • 44,882 households have registered with the Red Cross (more than 90,000 individuals).
  • Family members and evacuees trying to reunite can also contact the Red Cross. *Due to high call volumes, you may not be able to reach someone right away.
  • If documents, such as driver’s licences or ID cards, were left behind during the evacuation, new cards can be issued free of charge at a registry agent. A list of registry locations can be found at the Service Alberta website at www.servicealberta.gov.ab.ca.

Information on the pet recovery:

  • Alberta Agriculture and Forestry are working closely with Wood Buffalo Animal Control, Alberta SPCA and partners in Fort McMurray to address the issue of dogs, cats and other pets left behind during the emergency evacuation. The Alberta SPCA is requesting that those with pets left behind register them online at http://asset.rmwb.ca/pet-rescue/
  • The first transport of rescued animals from Fort McMurray arrived at the Alberta SPCA’s reception centre in Edmonton early Monday. More than 200 animals were checked through the intake and triage areas by volunteers from the Edmonton Humane Society and the Alberta Spay Neuter Task Force. The Alberta SPCA will contact the owners as soon as possible to arrange reunion with their pets.

Health-related information:

  • A boil-water advisory remains in effect for the area of Fort McMurray including Anzac, Conklin, Gregoire Lake Provincial Park, Janvier, and nearby work camps that pull water from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Water Treatment Plant.
  • To get a replacement Health Care Insurance Card at no cost, you can contact us at 780-427-1432 or toll free at 310-0000 and then 780-427-1432 when prompted. Your Alberta Personal Health Card can be mailed to a temporary address.  
  • Alberta Health Services has issued an air-quality advisory for the Fort McMurray area, as well as a precautionary advisory for communities in the North Zone due to wildfires; residents are advised to take appropriate precautions. Real-time air-quality data and information is available at www.environment.alberta.ca/apps/aqhi/aqhi.aspx.

Road closures:

  • Hwy. 881 is closed in both directions between the Hwy 63 junction and Janvier, approx. 90 km south of the Hwy 63/881 junction.
  • Southbound travel from the Hwy 63/881 junction can only travel south down Hwy 63.
  • Northbound traffic on Hwy 881 cannot travel north of Janvier.

Information for post-secondary students:

  • Apprentices or journeypersons from the Fort McMurray area who have questions should call the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Information line at 1-800-248-4823, Monday through Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or visit tradesecrets.gov.ab.ca.
  • Students who have been disrupted by the wildfires in the region – please plan to reach out to Student Aid Alberta when you are ready and able to do so.
  • Post-secondary students with questions about Alberta student loans can call 1-855-606-2096, or toll free in North America at 1-855-606-2096 Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Donations and volunteers:

  • Anyone who wants to help with a donation can contact the Canadian Red Cross at redcross.ca or 1-800-418-1111.
  • The Municipal District of Wood Buffalo is not accepting donations at this time.

Economic Development and Trade is coordinating donations from international sources and has been in contact with several foreign embassies regarding the status of their citizens in the impacted areas. International citizens impacted by the evacuations are encouraged to register with their home embassy.

Media inquiries
Media Lead, Provincial Operations Centre Line
780-644-4863

View this announcement online

Government of Alberta