EDMONTON, AB: With a damning report into the Fort McMurray wildfire leaking today, the Wildrose Official Opposition demanded the NDP government immediately release the report in full and initiate an independent and judge-led public inquiry.
According to the CBC, the report has been gathering dust since March. The government repeatedly refused to make it public.
The report came packaged with a warning that if Alberta doesn’t learn to be better prepared the public “can expect similar or worse outcomes on a more frequent basis,” and showed that there was a lack of preparedness for the wildfire season, despite a dry and hot spring.
“This is the worst natural disaster in our province’s history and it is absolutely outrageous that the government hid this report for months to avoid accountability. The thousands of people who lost their homes have been demanding answers and the government has intentionally hid this report from them,” Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said. “The information in this report shows that we were not prepared and more should have been done. It’s now more clear than ever that we need an independent judge-led inquiry for full transparency and accountability.”
The report shows a total breakdown in communications on the day of the evacuation with the incident commander failing to report to firefighters in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) that the fire would enter the city later that afternoon. It took social media for the RMWB operations chief to discover the fire was in the community.
The report clearly shows that staff were not ready for the wildfire season by May 1, and were scrambling to respond to the fire. There were no overnight operations the night after the fire was discovered and on May 2 crews were only able to complete “minor guard construction.”
“It’s disgraceful that the government sat on this information for so long without releasing it to Albertans,” Wildrose Shadow Emergency Response & Disaster Preparedness Minister Dave Hanson said. “Not only do we need to see the full report and implement these recommendations, but the government also needs to get off the fence and call an inquiry.”