Government to Review Fort McMurray Wildfire Response

Agriculture and Forestry is reviewing its response to the Horse River wildfire that burned through parts of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and the City of Fort McMurray in early May.

The review will look at Agriculture and Forestry’s wildfire preparation and readiness up to May 31 of this year and the steps taken to respond to fight the Horse River wildfire.

“This fire has altered the lives of thousands of people who are now faced with the difficult task of rebuilding their lives. Reviews like this are a normal part of our business when faced with extreme wildfire conditions or an extreme wildfire event.  We are constantly reviewing how we fight wildfire in an effort to become safer and more efficient.”

Oneil Carlier, Minister, Agriculture and Forestry

A request for proposals has been issued to select a suitable contractor to conduct the review. A final report will be delivered to government by the end of the year.

The cause or origin of the wildfire will not be the subject of this assessment, as wildfire investigators are engaged in that effort.

The wildfire hazard and extreme fire conditions escalated throughout much of the province this spring. On May 1, 2016, the Horse River wildfire started southwest of Fort McMurray and it has become the most damaging wildfire in Alberta’s history, surpassing the impacts of the 2011 Slave Lake and 1919 Lac La Biche wildland, urban-interface wildfires.

In 2011, a review was initiated after wildfires burned into communities in the Slave Lake area. Twenty-one recommendations were produced from that review and all have been implemented or are continuing to be implemented.