Update 19: 2016 Wildfires (May 20 at 3:15 p.m.)

May 20, 2016

Current situation

  • Fire conditions remain extreme in northeastern Alberta.
  • The Fort McMurray wildfire remains out of control. It is estimated to cover 503,674 hectares.
  • A total of 17 wildfires are burning, with two out of control.
  • A fire estimated at 130 hectares in size and located eight kilometres west of Janvier is not under control. No evacuations have been ordered at this time.
  • There are 2,011 firefighters, 189 helicopters, 344 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, Fort McKay First Nation and 19 camps north of Fort McMurray remain under a mandatory 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.


  • The temperature forecast for today is 15 C with a relative humidity of 45 per cent.
  • Temperatures are forecast to be lower over the next few days with rain in the forecast.

Temporary Housing Support

  • The Wildfire Evacuee Transitional Accommodation benefit is available to evacuees who do not have insurance or who have insufficient insurance to pay for temporary accommodation costs in Alberta.
  • The benefit covers rent, damage deposit and utility connections for up to 90 days from the date of evacuation and may also apply to hotel room costs while evacuees arrange temporary housing.
  • To be eligible, you must be over 18 and not have insurance or have insufficient insurance to pay for housing needs.
  • Income is not used to determine eligibility for WETA. This funding will not limit other benefits such as the debit-card allowance, Income Support or Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped.
  • Eligible evacuees can contact 310-4455 for information and apply in person at Alberta Works offices throughout the province. Residents must present personal identification, their Canadian Red Cross registration number, proof of primary residence in the evacuated area and confirmation of the address of their temporary housing (such as hotel receipts or a rental agreement).
  • Only one adult may apply per household.

Emergency Financial Assistance – Debit Cards

  • Financial assistance is still available for evacuees. Although physical debit-card locations will close today, call 310-4455 for emergency assistance during the long weekend. Assistance will be available at Alberta Works offices on Tuesday, May 24.
  • $1,250 per adult and $500 per dependant in one-time emergency financial assistance is being provided to people who have been displaced.
  • All debit-card distribution centres closed at noon on May 20. The Edmonton Butterdome location will re-open May 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. only (114 Street and 87 Avenue).
  • Starting Tuesday, May 24, eligible evacuees will be able to apply for their debit card at Alberta Works Centres in Grande Prairie, Lac La Biche, Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge during regular business hours.

26923270235_1695953c8e_kAlberta Works office locations

Edmonton (8:15 am – 4:30 pm)

  • Edmonton City Centre, 10242-105 St
  • Edmonton North, 2050 Northgate Centre, 9499-137 Ave
  • Edmonton South, Argyll Centre, 6325 Gateway Boulevard NW
  • Edmonton West, 120 Meadowlark Shopping Centre, 15710-87 Ave

Calgary (8:15 am – 4:30 pm)

  • Calgary Central, 3 Floor RPW Building, 1021-10 Ave SW
  • Calgary East, Main Floor Radisson Centre, 525-28 St SE
  • Calgary North, One Executive Place, 1816 Crowchild Trail NW
  • Calgary South, 100 Fisher Park II, 6712 Fisher Street SE

Red Deer

Red Deer, 2nd Floor First Red Deer Place, 4911-51 St
8:30 am – 4:30 pm

Lac La Biche

Provincial Building, 9503 Beaverhill Road
8:15 am – 4:30 pm

Grande Prairie

100 Towne Centre Mall, 9845-99 Ave
8:15 am – noon
1:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Medicine Hat

Lower Level Room, Provincial Building, 5, 346-3 St SE
8:15 am – 4:30 pm


Main Floor, Provincial Building, 200-5 Ave South
8:15 am – 4:30 pm

For additional information, please contact 310-4455 toll-free in Alberta or 1-844-406-3276 toll-free outside Alberta.

Information for affected residents

  • So far more than 80,000 participants have listened to the 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.

Camping on the Victoria Day Weekend in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

  • There is a ban on random camping on public lands in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
  • The ban will ensure that first responders can continue to focus on existing wildfires and reduce the need to for them to respond to other fire situations.
  • All mandatory evacuations remain in place.
  • Even though conditions have improved, it is still important for Albertans to do their part to prevent wildfires. Should the fire situation shift, it’s critical that authorities are aware of where people in the area are so they can be safely evacuated.
  • Random backcountry camping refers to camping that involves hiking, biking, paddling or horseback riding to a camping destination that does not have established facilities. This differs from the designated backcountry campgrounds, which have basic facilities and require a permit.

26899545036_a0f86d49f8_hHealth-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

  • Travel into Fort McMurray is restricted. Highways 63 and 881 are open in both directions.
  • 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.

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.