Albertans Have Lots of Questions on Fire Impact – Premier Notley

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley

EDMONTON – Conditions for wildfires in Alberta remain at an extreme level of hazard. The wildfire that threatened Fort McMurray remains out of control and has grown to a total size of 355,00 hectares. The evacuation order impacting the northern Alberta city remains in effect.

Tuesday, Premier Notley delivered the following update on the wildfires,:“We know those who live and work in the Fort McMurray area have lots of questions, and we’re doing our best to answer them.”

While there are no direct damages to oil sands projects in the Fort McMurray area, Suncor reports that the company is looking at the conditions that have impacted operations and are likely to continue to do so.

The Alberta fire conditions are also having some impact on the price of crude oil as prices on the world market have risen to a six month high.

Alberta has launched a beta testing site for Fire Bans.

Current situation in Alberta

  • Fire conditions remain extreme in the province.
  • The Fort McMurray wildfire remains out of control. It is estimated to cover 355,000 hectares.
  • There were five new fire starts over the past 24 hours. A total of 17 wildfires are burning, with four out of control.
  • There are 1,754 firefighters, 208 helicopters, 412 pieces of heavy equipment and 29 air tankers currently battling the fires.
  • ATCO has restored gas services to about 60 per cent of Fort McMurray.
  • Fort McMurray, Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates and Fort McMurray First Nation remain under a mandatory evacuation order.
  • Camps and facilities south of Fort McKay are under a mandatory evacuation order. Last night, approximately 8,000 non-essential staff were evacuated from more than a dozen camps.
  • Fort McKay First Nation, Athabasca Camp and the Beaver River Camp are under a recommended evacuation order.
  • Highway 63 from the Parson’s Creek interchange to the Suncor interchange is closed north and southbound. There is no public access to the city at this time.
  • Residents in the Municipal District of Greenview, south of the Hamlet of Little Smoky and north of Fox Creek, are able to return to their homes, but remain on a two-hour evacuation notice. The fire is approximately 900 hectares in size.
  • The Peace River fire currently covers roughly 17,000 hectares.

Weather

  • The temperature forecast for today is 25 C with a relative humidity of 20 per cent.
  • Temperatures are forecast in the high 20s for the next few days, with winds gusting up to 20 to 35 km/h out of the southwest. Rain is forecast over the weekend.

Abandoned vehicles

North of Fort McMurray

  • To ensure safety, Alberta Transportation has suspended abandoned vehicle retrieval for individuals with vehicles on Highway 881 or on Highway 63 north of the Highway 63/881 junction due to heavy wildfire smoke.
  • Albertans who want to retrieve their vehicles from this area are asked to check our website (emergency.alberta.ca) for updates on when conditions improve and it becomes safe to travel to your vehicle.

South of Fort McMurray

  • Individuals who abandoned their vehicles on Highway 63 south of the Highway 63/881 junction can call Highway 63 Towing & Recovery at 1-877-671-2717 to confirm if their vehicle is at the Wandering River yard and ready for retrieval.
  • Vehicles are stored at the Wandering River yard, about 230 kilometres north of Edmonton.

Update on plans for re-entry

  • The 2016 Wildfire Recovery Task Force is meeting regularly to plan re-entry into affected communities.
  • We expect to be able to share the re-entry plan in the coming days, and the plan will answer most questions about timing.
  • Five things need to be in place for re-entry:
    • 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 health care 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.

Emergency Financial Assistance – Debit Cards

  • $1,250 per adult and $500 per dependant in one-time emergency financial assistance is being provided to people who have been displaced.
  • Parking is free at debit-card locations.

Debit Card Location

Hours of Operation

Edmonton

Edmonton Butterdome
114 Street and 87 Avenue
May 17 – 19: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
May 20: 8 a.m. – noon
NAIT North Lobby
11762 106 Street
May 17 – 19: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
May 20: 8 a.m. – noon
Strathcona County Community Centre In the Agora (The Welcome Centre)
2001 Sherwood Drive, Sherwood Park
May 17 – 19: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
May 20: 8 a.m. – noon

Calgary

BMO Centre
Calgary Stampede Park, Hall A
20 Roundup Way SW
May 17 – 19: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
May 20: 8 a.m. – noon

Lac La Biche

Alberta Works
9503 Beaverhill Road
Provincial Building
Monday to Friday: 8:15 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

After May 20, emergency financial assistance will be moved to Alberta Works offices. More information will come in the following days.

  • For additional information, please contact 310-4455 toll-free in Alberta or 1-844-406-3276 toll-free outside Alberta.
  • Since this disaster began, approximately 25,000 calls have come in.
  • As of end of the day Monday, 30,232 debit cards totalling $65.7 million had been distributed to assist 63,060 individuals (a single card can be issued for several family members).

Information for affected residents

  • A telephone town is scheduled from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for Tuesday, May 17.
  • Evacuees who have registered their cellphone numbers and emergency contact numbers with the Red Cross will be phoned before 7 p.m.
  • For more information on services and updates, please visit the Government of Alberta emergency website at: emergency.alberta.ca.
  • AHS has health-care teams at several reception centres and help is also available by calling Health Link toll-free at 811 or the Mental Health Helpline at 1-877-303-2642.
  • Canada Post has set up a mail-forwarding service for displaced residents of Fort McMurray, Anzac and Fort McKay. Individuals can sign up online at canadapost.ca/mailforward or at any Canada Post location to receive urgent mail, such as government assistance.
  • All evacuees should register with the Red Cross – no matter where they are located. This will help ensure adequate access to the services, including access to emergency financial assistance. Register online at RedCross.ca; or by phone at 1-888-350-6070.

Driver’s Licences and ID cards

  • If affected residents left driver’s licences or ID cards behind during the evacuation, and have not requested a new card yet, please visit any Alberta registry agent to get a free replacement card. Alberta registry agent locations can be found at:
  • http://www.servicealberta.gov.ab.ca/find-a-registry-agent.cfm.
  • New cards will be delivered and expedited to the registry agent for pick up or delivered to an alternate address in an area not affected by the fires.

Evacuation information

  • There are 16 reception centres operating within the province. Additional details are available on the Government of Alberta emergency updates website: emergency.alberta.ca.
  • Albertans can get additional wildfire-related information by calling 310-4455 toll-free in Alberta or 1-844-406-3276 toll-free outside of Alberta, and by using the Alberta Emergency Alert and Alberta Wildfire apps.

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.
  • AHS has issued an air-quality advisory for the Fort McMurray area, as well as a precautionary air-quality advisory for Edmonton, central zone and 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.

Transportation updates

  • The RCMP traffic control point for northbound traffic is located eight km south of Fort McMurray at the oversized load rest area. This authorization is for critical logistical support only.
  • Any vehicles travelling into Fort McMurray must have pre-authorization from the RCMP and are required to register for a permit at the traffic-control point.
  • Highway 881 remains closed in both directions from the Highway 63/881 junction at the north end to kilometre marker 232, which is about 28 km north of Janvier.

Satellite maps

  • Albertans can get an online mapping application to survey damage in Fort McMurray. The maps are available at: https://cdn.albertamapservices.ca/FortMcMurray.
  • The maps are intended to provide a high-level satellite overview of the status of the urban city following the wildfires. The current resolution of the satellite images indicates only which areas were most severely damaged.
  • Structures that appear to be standing should not be considered undamaged. These images should not be used for official damage assessments, determining the status of individual structures or planning re-entry to the city.
  • The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is working to release higher-resolution imagery. It is anticipated that this future set of images may provide enough detail to assist property owners with insurance claims, recovery eligibility funding and other recovery actions.