Gateway Gazette

Update 22: 2016 Wildfires (May 23 at 3:45 p.m.)

Current situation

  • Fire conditions remain extreme in northeastern Alberta.
  • The Fort McMurray wildfire remains out of control. It is estimated to cover 522,892 hectares, including 2,496 hectares in Saskatchewan.
  • A total of 16 wildfires are burning, with one out of control.
  • A fire estimated at 146 hectares in size, and located eight kilometres west of Janvier, is being held. No evacuations have been ordered at this time.
  • There are 1,934 firefighters, 102 helicopters, 255 pieces of heavy equipment and 25 air tankers currently battling the fires.
  • ATCO employees are on the ground restoring critical utility infrastructure. Gas service has been restored to about 90 per cent of undamaged structures in Fort McMurray. Electricity has been restored to more than 90 per cent of undamaged structures in the community.
  • Fort McMurray, Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates, Fort McMurray First Nation and Fort McKay First Nation remain under a mandatory evacuation order.
  • The phased re-entry for all oil sands camps in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is underway.

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.
  • Re-entry schedule:
    • Zone 1: Lower Townsite, Anzac, Fort McMurray 468 First Nation, Gregoire Lake Estates (June 1)
    • Zone 2: Parsons Creek, Stone Creek, Timberlea, Eagle Ridge, Dickinsfield (June 2)
    • Zone 3: Thickwood, Wood Buffalo (June 3)
    • Zone 4(a): Gregoire, Prairie Creek, Saprae Creek Estates (June 3)
    • Zone 4(b): Waterways, Abasand, Beacon Hill, Grayling Terrace, Draper (June 4)


  • The temperature forecast for today is 19 C with a relative humidity of 35 per cent.
  • Temperatures are forecast to be moderate over the next few days, with minimal chance of rain in the forecast.

Temporary Housing Support:

  • The Wildfire Evacuee Transitional Accommodation (WETA) 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:

  • Although physical debit-card locations are now closed, financial assistance is still available for evacuees during the long weekend.
  • People with immediate needs can call the 24-hour Emergency Income Support Contact Centre at 1-866-644-9992.
  • $1,250 per adult and $500 per dependant in one-time emergency financial assistance is being provided to people who have been displaced.
  • 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.

Alberta Works office locations

These offices will be open from 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. unless otherwise indicated:

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

Calgary Central, 10th& 10th, 3rd Floor RPW Building, 1021-10 Ave SW
Calgary East Radisson, 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

Lac La Biche
Provincial Building, 9503 Beaverhill Road
8:15 a.m. – noon
1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

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

Main Floor, Provincial Building, 200-5 Ave South

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 this week.
  • For more information on services and updates, please visit the Government of Alberta emergency website at:
  • 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.

Random camping 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 for them to respond to other fire situations.
  • All mandatory evacuations remain in place except in approved circumstances.
  • 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 are in the area 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 that have basic facilities and require a permit.

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 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:

Transportation updates:

  • The situation remains unpredictable and highway conditions are subject to change.
  • Highways 63 and 881 are open to travel both northbound and southbound.
  • Travel into Fort McMurray is still restricted to essential services only.
  • There is no public access to Fort McMurray.
  • An RCMP traffic control point for northbound traffic is located at the oversized load rest area eight kilometres south of Fort McMurray.
  • Any essential services travelling into Fort McMurray are required to register for a permit at this traffic control point.
  • Workers who have been asked to return to oil sands sites north of Fort McMurray can use Highway 63.
  • There is no fuel available north of Wandering River and drivers should plan accordingly.
  • Anyone seeking to retrieve a vehicle abandoned along Highway 63 or Highway 881 should call 310-4455.
  • 511 Alberta remains the best source for immediate and up-to-date road closure information.

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
  • 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.

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