Gateway Gazette

Update 26: 2016 Wildfires (May 27 at 3:15 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 576,781 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.
  • The fire in the Peace River area is now under control.
  • There are 2,309 firefighters, 104 helicopters, 261 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:
    • 298 firefighters from South Africa
    • 198 firefighters from the United States
    • 111 firefighters from British Columbia
    • 85 firefighters from Ontario
    • 30 firefighters from Northwest Territories
    • 28 firefighters from Parks Canada
    • Seven firefighters from New Brunswick
    • Eight firefighters from Saskatchewan
    • Two firefighters from Manitoba
    • 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.

Weather:

  • The temperature forecast for Fort McMurray today is 21 C, with a relative humidity of 40 per cent and a 70 per cent chance of 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 voluntary phased re-entry of residents on June 1.
  • The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and the Government of Alberta 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.
  • With limited services available, returning residents should bring basic necessities to last for up to 14 days, including food, drinking water and prescriptions.
  • There will be no licensed or approved child-care options operating in Fort McMurray upon re-entry. Families who need child care are advised to plan re-entry with this in mind. Parents looking for child-care options in other communities can call Alberta Supports at 1-877-644-9992 (780-644-9992 within Edmonton) or use the online Child Care Lookup tool. Alberta Supports can also provide information on the emergency child-care subsidy available to assist eligible families with the cost of licensed or approved child care while they are away from home for their children under 12 and not yet in Grade 7.
  • 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.

Support for local businesses:

  • Government intends to work with local suppliers for any recovery-related procurement under provincial jurisdiction, with a preference for competitive bids from local firms.
  • A small business support centre is being setup in Fort McMurray to provide a space for businesses to get access to information on recovery-related contracts and workspace.
  • Small business owners may voluntarily return on the scheduled re-entry date for their zone.

Information for affected residents:

  • A telephone town hall is scheduled from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, May 30.
  • 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 on 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 and those abandoned north of 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 abandoned south of Highway 881 on Highway 63 were towed to Wandering River and can be retrieved by calling Highway 63 Towing & Recovery at 1-877-671-2717.
  • 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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