Gateway Gazette

Update 10: Fort McMurray Wildfire (May 10 at 11:30 a.m.)


May 10, 2016

Today’s updates on the wildfires around Fort McMurray:

Current situation

  • Fire conditions remain extreme in the province.
  • A total of 25 wildfires are burning: one out of control, one being held, 17 under control and six turned over to the responsible parties. There were two new starts yesterday.
  • There are 1,547 firefighters, 121 helicopters, 194 pieces of heavy equipment and 28 air tankers battling the fires.
  • Two fires in the Fort McMurray area have joined. The Fort McMurray wildfire is now roughly 229,000 hectares.
  • There are 700 firefighters, 26 helicopters, 13 air tankers and 46 pieces of heavy equipment units working on the Fort McMurray fire.
  • The wildfire is approximately 25 to 30 kilometres from the Saskatchewan boundary.

Additional updates

Emergency Financial Assistance – Debit Cards:

  • $1,250 per adult and $500 per dependent in emergency financial assistance will be provided to people who have been displaced.
  • This assistance will likely be provided in the form of pre-loaded debit cards.
  • Details on when this assistance will be available and how to access it will be available beginning on May 11, 2016. Government of Alberta offices will not have additional information until this time. When details are available they will be posted on this page and will be available through 310-4455.
  • In order to allow for immediate distribution to people who are most urgently in need of this assistance, we’re asking evacuees who are not in dire need of these funds to not claim them immediately.

Evacuation information:

  • People at several reception centres are experiencing symptoms consistent with viral gastroenteritis. AHS has Public Health and Infection Prevention and Control staff at these locations to manage the numbers of ill people and to prevent spread.
  • Fort McMurray, Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates and Fort McMurray First Nation remain under a mandatory evacuation order.
  • There are 13 reception centres operating within the province. Additional details are available on the Alberta government emergency updates website:
  • Preliminary re-entry planning is underway; a schedule for re-entry is expected within two weeks.
  • Albertans can stay up-to-date on wildfire-related information by calling 310-4455 in Alberta; 1-844-406-3276, and on the Alberta Emergency Alert and Alberta Wildfire apps.

Information for affected residents:

  • Mental health support is available by calling Alberta’s 24-hour Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642.
  • Alberta Health Services (AHS) has health care teams at several evacuation/reception centres and are available by calling Health Link Toll-free at 811 or the Mental Health Helpline at 1-877-303-2642.
  • Last night, 15,789 people participated in a telephone town hall to receive updated information for evacuees. Additional telephone town halls have been scheduled from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday May 10, Wednesday May 11 and Thursday May 12.
  • All evacuees are encouraged to participate and receive information on important topics such as getting access to pre-paid debit cards and progress being made to battle the fires.
  • Evacuees who have registered their cellphone numbers and emergency contact numbers with the Red Cross will be phoned before 7:00 p.m. on the evening of a call.
  • A transitional shelter plan is being developed for those displaced by the wildfires. Anyone at a reception centre, community centre or hotel is asked to stay where they are for now. We are working to move people to more comfortable, transitional accommodations as quickly as possible.
  • All evacuees should register with the Red Cross – no matter where you are currently. This will help ensure you have access to the services you may need, including access to emergency financial assistance. Register:
  • 44,882 households have registered with the Red Cross (more than 90,000 individuals).
  • 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 at the Service Alberta website

Information on the pet recovery:

  • Alberta Agriculture and Forestry are working closely with Wood Buffalo Animal Control, Alberta SPCA and partners in Fort McMurray to rescue dogs, cats and other pets left behind during the emergency evacuation. The Alberta SPCA is requesting that those with pets left behind register them online at
  • The first transport of rescued animals from Fort McMurray arrived at the Alberta SPCA’s reception centre in Edmonton early Monday. More than 200 animals were checked through the intake and triage areas by volunteers from the Edmonton Humane Society and the Alberta Spay Neuter Task Force. The Alberta SPCA will contact owners as soon as possible to arrange reunions with their pets.

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.
  • To get a replacement Health Care Insurance Card at no cost, call 780-427-1432 or toll free 310-0000 and then 780-427-1432 when prompted. Your Alberta Personal Health Card can be mailed to a temporary address.
  • 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 at

Road closures:

  • Highway 881 is closed in both directions between the Hwy 63 junction and Janvier, approximately 90 km south of the Hwy 63/881 junction.
  • Southbound travel from the Hwy 63/881 junction can only travel south down Hwy 63.
  • Northbound traffic on Hwy 881 cannot travel north of Janvier.

Information for parents of school-age children:

  • All students within the school authorities and schools identified below who are registered in a diploma course and are scheduled to write diploma exams in June 2016 will receive an automatic exemption from the diploma exams:
    • Fort McMurray Public School District,
    • Fort McMurray Roman Catholic School District,
    • École Boréal within the Greater North Central Francophone Education Region (Conseil scolaire Centre-Nord), and
    • Bill Woodward School (Anzac) within the Northland School Division.
  • Alberta Education will remain in contact with Northland School Division to assist all affected students. Schools will fill out an exemption form on behalf of all their students.
  • Students can still decide to write the diploma exams if they so choose. Where possible, schools will be expected to accommodate such requests. If students would like to write an exam at a Special Writing Centre, they, their parents or their school can contact or call 780-492-1400.
  • For more information regarding diploma exams, visit the Alberta Education website or contact Alberta Education through the Alberta Connects system, by email at:, or by phone at 780-427-7219.

Information for post-secondary students:

  • Starting immediately, all student loan payments or Alberta Repayment Assistance Plan payments will be automatically deferred for six months, interest-free for affected students.
  • Current students may apply to have their loan reviewed for extension based on their financial circumstances or due to extension or withdrawal from studies. Applications can be made online or by calling the Student Aid Alberta Service Centre.
  • Any student affected by wildfire who has questions about loans, repayment assistance or requests for reconsideration is encouraged to visit or call the Student Aid Alberta Service Centre, Mon-Fri, 7:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. (MST), toll-free in North America 1-855-606-2096.
  • Apprentices or journeypersons from the Fort McMurray area who have questions should call the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Information line at 1-800-248-4823, Monday through Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or
  • Students who have been disrupted by the wildfires in the region – please plan to reach out to Student Aid Alberta when you are ready and able to do so.
  • Student loan borrowers are reminded that they do not pay interest on for six months on their Alberta student loan following graduation. No application is necessary.
  • Post-secondary students with questions about Alberta student loans can call 1-855-606-2096, or toll free in North America at 1-855-606-2096 Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Donations and volunteers:

  • Anyone who wants to help with a donation can contact the Canadian Red Cross at or 1-800-418-1111.
  • The Municipal District of Wood Buffalo is not accepting donations at this time.
  • Economic Development and Trade is co-ordinating donations from international sources and has been in contact with several foreign embassies regarding the status of their citizens in the affected areas. International citizens affected by the evacuations are encouraged to register with their home embassy.


Backgrounder: Previous Updates

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