Fort McMurray Out Of Path of Wildfire – Fire Chief

Still too soon for residents to return

Click here to make a donation to the Rock 95/Red Cross relief effort

Wednesday – The wildfire in Alberta is no longer threatening Fort McMurray, but continues to grow and continues to move toward Saskatchewan. As for Fort McMurray, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says it’ll take at least two weeks to put together a schedule for residents to return; much work needs to be done to make the city safe again.

Tuesday – Alberta Premier Rachel Notley was on the ground in Fort McMurray Monday and has declared the city saved. She found 2400 homes and other buildings destroyed, but 25-thousand others were saved – including the hospital, municipal buildings and schools. The fire chief says 85 per cent of the city remains intact. At one point it was feared half the city would be lost. The fire continues to grow outside the city and now is about 2,020 square kilometers in size.

Monday – Rain pattered down on Fort McMurray Sunday, and the temperature cooled down, slowing the progress of the wildfire that has raged for more than a week. While it is still considered out of control, firefighters say the break in the weather might allow them to get a ‘death grip’ on the fire. Alberta’s Emergency Management Agency hopes to get staff on the ground in Fort McMurray today assessing the damage to critical infrastructure and with an eye to getting people back into their homes – those who have homes left to go back to.

Singer James Taylor plans to donate the proceeds from two concerts in Alberta next month to the relief effort, calling the blaze a major national catastrophe that is impossible to ignore.

Saturday – There are fears the Fort McMurray fire could double in size today as extremely hot and dry conditions persist. The good news, if there can be any in this, is that the fire is expanding into remote forested areas north of the city. A small amount of rain is expected on Sunday. Convoys continue to relocate people from work camps north of the oilsands capital – a process expected to take two or three more days.

Friday – Firefighters in Fort McMurray conceding they are no match for that raging wildfire, that they need rain and lots of it. None is expected for several days yet. The blaze has grown ten-fold since the city was evacuated on Tuesday, it covers an area larger than the City of Toronto. More than 300 firefighters and 22 water bombers have been trying to put it out. And there is this dour news, that the unusual weather that allowed this fire to spread as far and as fast as it has, is likely to continue through the summer due to the lingering effects of El Nino.

Thursday A change in the weather may be the only thing that can stop the wildfires in Fort McMurray Alberta. High heat and wind have been fanning the flames and spreading them further. Water being dropped from the air is having as much effect as ‘spitting on a campfire’. More than 10 thousand hectares of land have been torched, more than 16-hundred structures have been destroyed. One-hundred-and-fifty firefighters are doing what they can; reinforcements expected in the coming days.

Wednesday The fire chief in Fort McMurray Alberta said yesterday was the worst day of his life. It could get worse today as high winds and high humidity threaten to fan the massive wall of flames that prompted an evacuation order for the entire town. More than 80-thousand people have crammed highways trying to get out of town. It is the largest evacuation effort in Alberta history. The fire started Sunday. It appeared firefighters would get it under control Monday. Then came the high winds. The fire has already burned through a mobile home park in the south end of town and is burning in several south end neighbourhoods. There are no reports of major injuries. The Red Cross has set up a family reunification number for wildfire evacuees: 1-888-350-6070; it is also accepting donations for the relief effort.