Alberta Wildfire Update – May 6 2016

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Smoke billows from the Fort McMurray wildfires as a truck drives down the highway in Kinosis, Alberta, Canada, May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
Smoke billows from the Fort McMurray wildfires as a truck drives down the highway in Kinosis, Alberta, Canada, May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Current situation in Alberta

Edmonton – Alberta remains in a state of emergency as wildfires in the north of the province are expanding the evacuation area. There are ground evacuations of people North of Fort McMurray underway.

There are 1200 firefighters along with support coming in from outside the province who are battling the blazes.

Dry conditions continue to hamper firefighting efforts.

The cause of the massive Fort McMurray fire has now been determined. A ruptured gas line has caused the massive fire.

Latest Update

  • The Government of Alberta will provide emergency financial assistance of $1,250 per adult and $500 per dependant to help meet immediate needs.
  • Ground evacuations of people north of Fort McMurray began today, and will continue during daylight hours as weather and fire conditions permit. Vehicles are permitted to travel south on Highway 63 towards Edmonton or alternative accommodation.
  • Fire conditions remain extreme, with 12 new starts across Alberta yesterday. A total of 40 wildfires are burning, with five out of control, eight being held, 21 under control, and six turned over to the responsible parties.
  • A provincial fire ban is in effect across Alberta. All fire permits are suspended and no new fire permits will be issued. All open fires, including campfires and charcoal briquettes, are prohibited.
  • Temperatures in the high teens and winds gusting up to 40 kilometres per hour will make firefighting challenging.
  • More than 1,200 firefighters, approximately 110 helicopters, 295 pieces of heavy equipment and more than 27 air tankers are fighting the fires across the province.
  • Fort McMurray, Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates and Fort McMurray First Nation remain under a mandatory evacuation order.
  • 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 kilometres south of Fort McMurray (Kilometre 186)
    • Approximately 100 kilometres south of Fort McMurray at Mariana Lake (Kilometre 130)
    • Approximately 165 kilometres south of Fort McMurray (Kilometre 85)
  • Alberta Transportation is operating a new emergency refueling station approximately 30 kilometres north of Fort McMurray on the southbound ramp of the Suncor Voyageur Interchange.
  • A private vendor is selling fuel north of the traffic control point at the Highway 63 Parsons Creek Interchange, just south of Supertest Hill.
  • Quantities are limited and will be restricted to motorists who need fuel to get them to the nearest fuel centre.
  • There are currently 10 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
    • Moose Haven – 1 Janvier
    • Grasslands – Community Hall, Main Street
    • Drayton Valley – Omniplex – 5737-45 Avenue
    • Smokey Lake – 4612 – 54 Avenue
    • SAIT – Residence Tower 151 Dr. Carpenter Circle NW *For Suncor employees and evacuees in camps
    • Fort Chipewyan Reception Centre  *For First Nation Band members only

Information for affected residents

  • All evacuees should register with the Red Cross – no matter where you are currently. This will allow us to reach you as more info becomes available and will ensure you have access to the services you may need. Register:
  • If you’ve already registered with an evacuation centre or RMWB, you do not need to register again. 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 on the Service Alberta website.
  • Alberta Health Services has issued a boil-water advisory 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, as a precautionary measure.
  • 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 before using. This boil water advisory excludes Fort McKay.
  • 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 online.
  • Mental health support is available by calling Alberta’s 24-hour Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642.

Information regarding pets and livestock

  • Evacuees who had to leave animals at home can call the following numbers:
    • 780-743-7000 Pulse
    • 780-788-4200 Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
  • A number of veterinary practices across Alberta are offering their help. Information is available online.
  • The Alberta SPCA is coordinating 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.
  • The Edmonton Humane Society and Edmonton’s Animal Care and Control Centre are coordinating animal care for people arriving in Edmonton, with assistance from the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association.

Closures and affected services

  • The unpredictable situation caused by wildfire is causing periodic closures on Highway 63 and Highway 881. Both highways are open to south-bound traffic with spot closures as conditions require. North-bound traffic is restricted to emergency vehicles and other essential travel at the junction of Highway 63/881.
  • Highway 881 is currently closed between the Highway 63 junction and Conklin due to wildfire.
  • Southbound travel from the Highway 63/881 junction can only travel down Highway 63.
  • People leaving the Anzac area can travel south down Hwy 881. There is no northbound travel from Conklin on Hwy 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/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.
  • Residents receiving benefits from the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) program by cheque rather than electronic deposit, and who are affected by the wildfire in Fort McMurray, are advised to call the Athabasca AISH office at 780-675-6853 during regular office hours or visit Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH)
  • For information on child intervention, child care and Family Support for Children with Disabilities, Fort McMurray and area residents may contact 1-800-638-0715.
  • Information on emergency benefits for eligible Albertans in need is here
  • Alberta Works clients who receive benefits by cheque rather than electronic deposit, and who are affected by the wildfire in Fort McMurray, can call the 24-hour Income Support Contact Centre at 1-866-644-5135 (then press 1) or within Edmonton call 780-644-5135.
  • If persons with developmental disabilities, their families or contracted service providers need human, financial, or in-kind assistance to connect with loved ones, find accommodations or provide assistance to individuals receiving PDD supports, please contact the Persons with Developmental Disabilities Program Branch at 780-427-1177 ext#3 or as an alternate Disability Services at 780-415-2466 or visit Persons with Developmental Disabilities.
  • For additional information on social benefits, affected individuals can contact Alberta Supports at 1-877-644-9992.

Donations and volunteers

  • The Canadian Red Cross is accepting donations via phone, online or through text message. Details can be found at www.redcross.ca.
  • At this time, we are not seeking volunteers.

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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