Gateway Gazette

Update 24: 2016 Wildfires (May 25 at 4:30 p.m.)

Current situation

  • Fire conditions are high to extreme in northeastern Alberta.
  • The Fort McMurray wildfire remains out of control. It is estimated to cover 566,188 hectares, including 4,600 hectares in Saskatchewan.
  • A total of 15 wildfires are burning. Only the Fort McMurray fire remains out of control.
  • Firefighters are conducting controlled burns in the Fort McMurray region to remove flammable debris and limit potential flare-ups later. None is expected to affect traffic flow today.
  • There are 2,054 firefighters, 88 helicopters, 256 pieces of heavy equipment and 25 air tankers currently battling the fires.
  • Wildfire crews from across the world are supporting the efforts in Alberta, including:
    • 280 firefighters from South Africa
    • 200 firefighters from the United States
    • 85 firefighters from Ontario
    • 44 firefighters from Quebec
    • 22 firefighters from New Brunswick
    • 30 firefighters from Northwest Territories
    • Six firefighters from Saskatchewan
    • Three firefighters from Newfoundland
    • Eight firefighters from Parks Canada
    • Three firefighters from Nova Scotia
  • Fort McMurray, Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates, Fort McMurray First Nation and Fort McKay First Nation remain under a mandatory evacuation order.
  • ATCO has released a utility restoration map regarding the status of electricity and natural gas services for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo:http://www.atcoresponds.com
  • Fire ban and OHV restrictions no longer in effect in portions of the Lac La Biche area south of Fort McMurray.
  • A fire ban, random camping ban and OHV restriction remain in effect for the Fort McMurray forest area in northeastern Alberta.

Weather:

  • The temperature forecast for today is 22 C, with a relative humidity of 30 per cent.
  • Temperatures are forecast to be moderate over the next few days, with a possibility of thundershowers Thursday and Friday.

Re-Entry Information:

  • Work is still on track to begin phased re-entry of residents on June 1.
  • The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and the Government of Alberta have released a Re-entry Information Booklet to help plan a safe return to the community.
  • Information centres will be set up throughout the region to offer support and resources for returning residents.
  • Oil sands operations have begun a phased re-entry. Access to camp is preferred via air or bus transportation. Workers should contact their employers for details.

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.
  • 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).

Emergency Financial Assistance – Debit Cards:

  • People with immediate needs can call the 24-hour Emergency Income Support Contact Centre at 1-866-644-9992.
  • 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.

Information for affected residents:

  • So far, more than 90,000 people have participated in the telephone town halls.
  • Telephone town halls are scheduled from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for May 25 and 26.
  • 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.

Health-related information:

  • Alberta Health Services is providing 24/7 basic health services and emergency and urgent care at the Fort McMurray Urgent Care Centre located at the Syncrude Sport and Wellness Centre (9908 Penhorwood Street).
  • The Urgent Care Clinic Centre is available to anyone in the Fort McMurray region – including returning evacuees, first responders and restoration workers – as hospital restoration work continues.
  • A boil-water advisory remains in effect for the area of Fort McMurray including Saprae Creek, Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates, 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: www.environment.alberta.ca/apps/aqhi/aqhi.aspx.

Transportation updates:

  • The mandatory evacuation order for Fort McMurray and area is still in effect. All access into the city is controlled by local authorities and is restricted to authorized personnel only.
  • Highway 63 is open to vehicles travelling through Fort McMurray to work sites north of the city.
  • 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.
  • There are no operating gas stations north of Wandering River. Anyone travelling Highway 63 must ensure they have enough fuel for a round trip.
  • Anyone seeking to retrieve a vehicle abandoned along Highway 63 or Highway 881 should call 310-4455.
  • 511 Alberta remains the best source of immediate and up-to-date-road closure information. Please visit www.511.alberta.ca for the latest information.

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