Gateway Gazette

Update 25: 2016 Wildfires (May 26 at 1:20 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 more than 566,188 hectares in Alberta and about 3,200 hectares in Saskatchewan.
  • As of 7 a.m., there were 20 active wildfires in Alberta, with one out of control.
  • There are 2,062 firefighters, 105 helicopters, 258 pieces of heavy equipment and 24 air tankers currently battling the fires across Alberta.
  • Wildfire crews from across the world are currently supporting – or en route to support – the efforts in Alberta, including:
    • 280 firefighters from South Africa
    • 200 firefighters from the United States
    • 113 firefighters from British Columbia
    • 85 firefighters from Ontario
    • 44 firefighters from Quebec
    • 30 firefighters from Northwest Territories
    • 22 firefighters from New Brunswick
    • Eight firefighters from Parks Canada
    • Six firefighters from Saskatchewan
    • Three firefighters from Newfoundland/Prince Edward Island
    • Three firefighters from Nova Scotia
  • With higher humidity in the forecast and the potential for showers, it is expected that firefighting conditions will improve through the weekend.
  • 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

Weather:

  • The temperature forecast for today is 23 C, with a low relative humidity of 35 to 40 per cent and a 60 per cent chance of light rain showers.
  • Temperatures are forecast to be moderate over the weekend, with a higher relative humidity and a possibility of thundershowers and/or rain showers.

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:

  • A telephone town hall is scheduled from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 26.
  • 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).
  • 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. There is no public access to Fort McMurray.
  • Highway 63 is open to vehicles travelling through Fort McMurray to work sites north of the city.
  • A 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 limited gas supplies north of Wandering River. Anyone travelling Highway 63 must ensure they have enough fuel for a round trip.
  • The retrieval service for abandoned vehicles located at the secure facility within Fort McMurray is currently suspended. After re-entry begins, recovery of these vehicles will again be possible. Further details will be provided when available.
  • Vehicles recovered south of Highway 881 on Highway 63 were towed to Wandering River and can be retrieved by calling Highway 63 Towing & Recovery at1-877-671-2717.
  • Those seeking additional information about retrieval of abandoned vehicles along Highway 63 or Highway 881 should contact 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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