Gateway Gazette

Update 18: 2016 Wildfires (May 19 at 2:00 p.m.)

May 19, 2016

Current situation

  • Fire conditions remain extreme in northeastern Alberta.
  • The Fort McMurray wildfire remains out of control. It is estimated to cover 505,645 hectares.
  • There were three new fire starts over the past 24 hours. A total of 16 wildfires are burning, with two out of control.
  • A new fire estimated at 50 hectares in size and located eight kilometres west of Janvier is now reported under control. No evacuations have been ordered.
  • There are 2,423 firefighters, 189 helicopters, 439 pieces of heavy equipment and 29 air tankers currently battling the fires.
  • ATCO employees are on the ground restoring critical utility infrastructure. Gas service has been restored to about 75 per cent of Fort McMurray. Electricity has been restored to more than 90 per cent of the community.
  • Fort McMurray, Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates, Fort McMurray First Nation and 19 camps north of Fort McMurray remain under a mandatory evacuation order.
  • Fort McKay First Nation, Athabasca Camp and the Beaver River Camp are under a recommended evacuation order.
  • The two-hour evacuation notice for residents in the Municipal District of Greenview, south of the Hamlet of Little Smoky and north of Fox Creek, has been lifted. The fire now covers 660 hectares and is being held.

Plans for Re-entry:

  • A preliminary re-entry plan has been established and it is anticipated that residents can begin going home June 1. A voluntary phased re-entry is planned.

Weather:

  • The temperature forecast for today is 16 C with a relative humidity of 40 per cent.
  • Temperatures are forecast to be lower over the next few days with rain in the forecast.

Abandoned vehicles:

  • Retrieval of abandoned vehicles has resumed.
  • Vehicles in damaged areas within Fort McMurray were towed to allow for building of fencing and recovery efforts. Some have sustained significant heat damage. Individuals should call 310-4455 to determine the status and location of their vehicle.
  • Vehicles abandoned on Highway 63 south of the Highway 63/881 junction can be retrieved by calling Highway 63 Towing & Recovery at 1-877-671-2717. Vehicles are being stored at the Wandering River yard, approximately 230 km north of Edmonton.
  • Vehicles abandoned on Highway 881 and on Highway 63 north of the Highway 63/881 junction can be retrieved by calling 310-4455. This includes vehicles abandoned on Highway 63 within Fort McMurray urban limits and vehicles abandoned north of Fort McMurray.
  • Fuel will be provided to ensure all retrieved vehicles can reach the nearest gas station.
  • To claim your vehicle, you will need to provide your driver’s licence or other documentation and show that the vehicle registration matches the information on your driver’s licence.
  • Costs for towing and storage of abandoned vehicles will be covered by the Province of Alberta.
  • This is not a call for workers or residents to return to the Fort McMurray area. There is no public access into Fort McMurray.
  • All drivers are reminded to be extra safe, obey all signs, roadblocks and RCMP directions, and make sure you have sufficient water food and fuel.

Emergency Financial Assistance – Debit Cards:

  • $1,250 per adult and $500 per dependant in one-time emergency financial assistance is being provided to people who have been displaced.
  • After May 20, emergency financial assistance will move to Alberta Works offices.
  • Supports are in place over the long weekend for those in vulnerable circumstances. For additional information, please call 310-4455 toll-free in Alberta or
    1-844-406-3276 toll-free outside Alberta.

Debit Card Location

Hours of Operation

Edmonton

Edmonton Butterdome
114 Street and 87 Avenue
May 19: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
May 20: 8 a.m. – noon
NAIT North Lobby
11762 106 Street
May 19: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
May 20: 8 a.m. – noon
Strathcona County Community Centre In the Agora (The Welcome Centre)
2001 Sherwood Drive, Sherwood Park
May 19: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
May 20: 8 a.m. – noon

Calgary

BMO Centre
Calgary Stampede Park, Hall A
20 Roundup Way SW
May 19: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
May 20: 8 a.m. – noon

Lac La Biche

Alberta Works
9503 Beaverhill Road
Provincial Building
Monday to Friday: 8:15 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Parking is free at debit-card locations.
  • For additional information, please call 310-4455 toll-free in Alberta or
    1-844-406-3276 toll-free outside Alberta.
  • Since this disaster began, approximately 40,000 calls have come in.
  • As of 8 p.m. Wednesday, 34,006 debit cards totalling $73.1 million had been distributed to assist 70,252 individuals (a single card can be issued for several family members).

Information for affected residents:

  • A telephone town hall is scheduled from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. today. So far more than 60,000 evacuees have participated in telephone town halls. More are planned for next week.
  • Evacuees who have registered their cellphone numbers and emergency contact numbers with the Red Cross will be phoned before 7 p.m.
  • For more information on services and updates, please visit the Government of Alberta emergency website at: emergency.alberta.ca.
  • AHS has health-care teams at several reception centres and help is also available by calling Health Link toll-free at 811 or the Mental Health Helpline at 1-877-303-2642.

Driver’s Licences and ID cards:

  • If affected residents left driver’s licences or ID cards behind during the evacuation and have not requested a new card yet, please visit any Alberta registry agent to get a free replacement card. Alberta registry agent locations can be found at: http://www.servicealberta.gov.ab.ca/find-a-registry-agent.cfm
  • New cards will be delivered and expedited to the registry agent for pickup or delivered to an alternate address in an area not affected by the fires.

Health-related information:

  • A boil-water advisory remains in effect for the area of Fort McMurray including Saprae Creek, Anzac, Gregoire Lake Provincial Park and nearby work camps that pull water from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Water Treatment Plant.
  • AHS has issued an air-quality advisory for the Fort McMurray area, as well as a precautionary air-quality advisory for Edmonton, central zone and 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: www.environment.alberta.ca/apps/aqhi/aqhi.aspx.

Transportation updates:

  • Periodic road closures continue north of Fort McMurray due to ongoing wildfire activity.
  • Travel into Fort McMurray is restricted.
  • Any vehicles travelling into Fort McMurray must have pre-authorization from the RCMP and are required to register for a permit at the traffic-control point.
  • Highway 881 is now open.

Satellite maps:

  • Albertans can get an online mapping application to survey damage in Fort McMurray.
  • The maps are available at: https://cdn.albertamapservices.ca/FortMcMurray.
  • New, high-resolution images from multiple angles are now available from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo to give residents a clearer idea of which homes have been lost and damaged and may assist property owners with insurance claims, eligibility funding and other recovery actions.
  • The images from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo are available at: firemap.rmwb.ca
  • These images may be hard for some to view and should be viewed with caution, as they show significantly more detail than images available previously. Residents needing support should call Alberta’s 24-hour Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642.

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