Gateway Gazette

Update 36: 2016 Wildfires (June 7 at 12:15 p.m.)

Current situation:

  • There was no significant growth in the Fort McMurray wildfire yesterday, and the fire is now nearly 70 per cent contained. It is estimated to cover 581,586 hectares, including the Saskatchewan side, with a perimeter estimate of 984 kilometres.
  • Crews have completed about 442 kilometres of dozer guard.
  • Extreme burning conditions still exist for some areas of the fire.
  • There are 2,794 firefighters and support staff, 147 helicopters, 16 tankers and 233 pieces of heavy equipment battling fires across the province.
  • There are 23 active wildfires in Alberta, with five out of control (one in Fort McMurray, three in the Slave Lake area and one in the Lac La Biche area, with no threats to municipalities).
  • Wildfire crews from around the world are supporting Alberta’s efforts, including 299 firefighters from South Africa and 41 from Mexico.
  • Environmental monitoring continues in the Fort McMurray region, including mobile air monitoring. Results of environmental testing data are now available online.
  • Hotspots are being managed in the Fort McMurray area. Anyone with information about new wildfires should call 1-866-394-3473. Reports of structural fires should be made to 911.

Weather:

  • Weather forecast for the Fort McMurray area today:
    • Approximately 24 C, 30 per cent humidity, with winds from the northwest gusting to 20 km/h; 40 per cent chance of medium-to-light precipitation this afternoon, with expected showers and possible thunderstorms overnight.
  • Fire crews need safe access to air space. Drones or other airborne devices may not be flown without the approval of the Regional Emergency Operations Centre.

Information for returning residents:

  • Before returning, renters should contact their landlords to determine if their units are ready for occupancy.
  • Three information centres are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Since voluntary re-entry began on June 1, nearly 35,000 people have visited information centres.  Information Centres are located at:
    • Fort McMurray Composite High School, 9803 King Street (wildfire relief funding debit cards available at this centre).
    • Westwood High School/YMCA, 221 Tundra Drive (wildfire relief funding debit cards available at this centre).
    • Holy Trinity High School, 230 Powder Drive.
    • Residents are welcome to visit any of the information centres, regardless of their location.
    • Information Centres located in Anzac, Vista Ridge, Eagle Ridge and the Oil Sands Discovery Centre  are now closed.
  • The Future Forward Building (9717 Franklin Avenue) will begin distributing information materials starting June 13.
  • Returning residents are encouraged to bring basic necessities to last for up to 14 days, including food, drinking water and prescriptions.
  • Please use water wisely while the waste-water treatment plant is becoming fully operational.
  • Returning residents are encouraged to check or clean their detectors, replace the batteries and test to ensure they are working properly.
  • The Red Cross is providing financial travel assistance for those who are not receiving it through their insurance or workplace. Additional financial assistance for people returning to Fort McMurray is also available. Contact the Red Cross for details at 1-888-350-6070 or redcross.ca.

Information for non-returning residents:

Property Visit Program:

  • Visits to homes identified as “destroyed or unsafe to occupy” outside the restricted areas of Abasand, Beacon Hill and Waterways started Sunday.
  • For safety reasons, residents are not permitted to visit destroyed homes on their own.
  • A specialized disaster response team will work with residents to visit properties.
  • Residents should book visits through the PULSE line by calling 780-743-7000. More information about the Property Visit Program is available online through the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

Information for residents in Abasand, Waterways and Beacon Hill:

  • Visits to destroyed properties in Abasand, Beacon Hill and Waterways will begin on June 8, 2016.
  • A tackifier called Posi-Shell is being applied to debris in damaged areas. A tackifier is a powdery substance that dries to a hard shell, which prevents ash and other contaminants from becoming airborne. It is an environmentally safe, non-toxic compound that is commonly used in landfills.
  • Tackifier application is complete in all affected neighbourhoods. Reapplication will occur after sifting operations are complete.

Information for out-of-province residents:

  • Out-of-province evacuees received an email on May 31 with detailed instructions on how to apply for wildfire relief funding (evacuees who stayed in Alberta received this funding as debit cards).
  • Applications will be accepted at more than 600 locations across Canada for out-of-province evacuees until June 15. Location information is available online at the Government of Canada website at servicecanada.gc.ca.
  • Evacuees will need to attend in person with government-issued photo identification and documentation to substantiate their claims and applications.
  • For more information on services, out-of-province supports and updates, please visit the Government of Alberta emergency website at:emergency.alberta.ca.

Information for all affected residents:

  • The next telephone town hall is scheduled for Wednesday, June 8 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Residents who have registered their cellphone numbers and emergency contact numbers with the Red Cross will be phoned before 7 p.m. on the evening of the call.
  • Service Alberta has deployed a consumer investigation team to help people with issues such as scams and price gouging for renovations, accommodations, home inspections, clean-up contracts, etc. Anyone with concerns about price gouging should contact the municipality’s PULSE information line at 1-780-743-7000.
  • The Alberta Emergency Management Agency has fixed prices for hotels and rental properties at April 30 rates.
  • Government is working with child-care providers to re-establish services in the community. Families who need child care may want to consider waiting until licensed and approved options are available before they bring their children back to Fort McMurray.

Health information:

  • Restoration of the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre continues. The emergency department, laboratory services and diagnostic imaging are available. Since re-entry, the hospital has not seen a significant increase in patient volume.
  • 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).
  • Residents with the following medical issues should not return until the hospital is fully operational:
    • those with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma;
    • those who require regular primary care, home care or specialized treatment such as dialysis or cancer;
    • those who were recently discharged from hospital or who have had a transplant; and
    • women who are more than 36 weeks pregnant or who have a high-risk pregnancy.
  • More than 100 mental health staff trained in psychological first aid, along with a team from British Columbia that specializes in disaster response, are available through the information centres. The centres will have walk-in appointments and are open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Residents can also call the Mental Health Helpline at 1-877-303-2642
  • Community addiction and mental-health crisis teams are available at the hospital. Counselling for addiction and mental health, including walk-in appointments, is available at the Syncrude Sports and Wellness Centre.
  • A roving community wellness team is providing mental health support. Staff are available from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. and are on call overnight. They can be reached by calling 780-370-0182 or 780-792-6378 or HealthLink at 811.
  • The boil-water advisory remains in effect for areas outside of the Fort McMurray Lower Townsite. More information is available here:  http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/news/page13205.aspx
  • The air-quality advisory issued by AHS for the Fort McMurray area remains in effect. Residents are advised to take appropriate precautions.

Re-entry information:

  • The phased, voluntary re-entry is now complete for all zones.
  • Before returning, renters should contact their landlords to determine if their units are ready for occupancy.
  • Fire crews need safe access to air space. Drones or other airborne devices may not be flown without the approval of the Regional Emergency Operations Centre.
  • Five information centres are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Since voluntary re-entry began on June 1, a total of 34,474 people have visited information centres.

Donation update:

  • The Red Cross has raised more than $128 million, which does not include matching funds.

 

Backgrounder: Previous Updates

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