Update 5: Fort McMurray Wildfire (May 6 at 7 p.m.)

Public safety remains the key priority as the wildfire in Fort McMurray continues to burn. Provincial fire crews continue their efforts to reduce the threat to property and infrastructure.

Current situation

  • The Disaster Recovery Program (DRP) will allocate an initial $200 million for emergency costs. Disaster recovery programs provide financial assistance for municipalities and their citizens who incur uninsurable loss and damage as a result of a disastrous event. This amount was already included in Budget 2016 to cover emergency events. 
  • The Wood Buffalo Ministerial Recovery Task Force has been established to:
    • ensure safety and security in the affected areas;
    • support the needs of the communities;
    • plan the timely re-entry of residents when it is safe to do so; and
    • support the resumption of municipal, economic and business activities.    
  • Convoys of vehicles were temporarily halted at about 1 p.m. today due to wildfire smoke on Highway 63 south of Fort McMurray. They resumed about an hour later. Traffic is flowing south on Highway 63 from the Parsons Creek Interchange under RCMP control.
  • Fire conditions remain extreme, with 12 new starts across Alberta yesterday. A total of 40 wildfires are burning, with five out of control, eight being held, 21 under control and six turned over to the responsible parties.
  • A provincewide ban on the use of off-highway vehicles, due to the risk these vehicles pose in the very dry conditions Alberta is experiencing, is in effect.
  • A provincial fire ban remains in effect across Alberta. All fire permits are suspended and no new permits will be issued. All open fires, including campfires and charcoal briquettes, are prohibited.
  • Temperatures in the high teens and winds gusting up to 40 kilometres per hour will make firefighting challenging.
  • More than 1,200 firefighters, approximately 110 helicopters, 295 pieces of heavy equipment and more than 27 air tankers are fighting the fires across the province.
  • Fort McMurray, Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates and Fort McMurray First Nation remain under a mandatory evacuation order.
  • Albertans can stay up-to-date on wildfire-related information by calling 310-4455 in Alberta; 1-844-406-3276, and on the Alberta Emergency Alert and Alberta Wildfire apps.

Evacuation information

  • RCMP are controlling all traffic south on Highway 63 from the traffic control point near the Parsons Creek Interchange north of Fort McMurray.
  • On May 6 approximately 1,200 vehicles and thousands of people were able to pass through this control point under RCMP escort to evacuate the Fort McMurray area from north of the city to safe areas south of the city.
  • The RCMP will continue escorting vehicles southbound from the northern traffic control point until 10 p.m., at which time RCMP escorts will cease for this evening and the traffic control point near Parsons Creek Interchange will be closed to southbound traffic.
  • If conditions are safe, the traffic control point will reopen Saturday, May 7 at 6 a.m. with RCMP prepared to escort southbound vehicles.
  • Emergency fuel is available at the emergency refuelling station approx. 30 km north of Fort McMurray on the southbound ramp of the Suncor Voyageur Interchange.
  • Emergency fuel stations are operating in safety rest areas in the following locations on Highway 63:
    • Approximately 60 kilometres south of Fort McMurray (Kilometre 186)
    • Approximately 100 kilometres south of Fort McMurray at Mariana Lake (Kilometre 130)
    • Approximately 165 kilometres south of Fort McMurray (Kilometre 85)
  • Quantities are limited and will be restricted to motorists who need fuel to get them to the nearest fuel centre.
  • There are currently 10 reception centres operating within the province. Additional details are available on the Alberta government emergency updates website:
  • Fort McKay – Fort McKay Business Centre
  • Lac La Biche – The Bolt Centre – 8702-91 Avenue
  • Edmonton – Northlands Grounds, Hall A – 7515-118 Avenue
  • St. Paul – Centennial Recreation Centre – 4802-53 Street
  • Moose Haven – 1 Janvier
  • Grasslands – Community Hall, Main Street
  • Drayton Valley – Omniplex – 5737-45 Avenue
  • Smokey Lake – 4612 – 54 Avenue
  • SAIT – Residence Tower 151 Dr. Carpenter Circle NW *For Suncor employees and evacuees in camps
  • Fort Chipewyan Reception Centre  *For First Nation Band members only

Information for affected residents

  • All evacuees should register with the Red Cross – no matter where you are currently. This will allow us to reach you as more information becomes available and will ensure you have access to the services you may need. Register:
  • If you’ve already registered with an evacuation centre or RMWB, you do not need to register again. Family members and evacuees trying to reunite can also contact the Red Cross. *Due to high call volumes, you may not be able to reach someone right away.
  • If documents, such as driver’s licences or ID cards, were left behind during the evacuation, new cards can be issued free of charge at a registry agent. A list of registry locations can be found at the Service Alberta website atwww.servicealberta.gov.ab.ca.

Health-related information:

  • To get a replacement Health Care Insurance Card at no cost, you can contact us at 780-427-1432 or toll free at 310-0000 and then 780-427-1432 when prompted. Your Alberta Personal Health Card can be mailed to a temporary address.  
  • Breastfeeding mothers can get support from the Canadian Lactation Consultant Association. Services include triage for moms and babies, breastfeeding tents, lactation consultation, and education for new mothers on what to expect in emergency disaster situations. Contact 1-800-272-9756 or iycfehelp@gmail.com.
  • Mental health support is available by calling Alberta’s 24-hour Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642.
  • Alberta Health Services has issued a boil-water advisory for the area of Fort McMurray including Anzac, Conklin, Gregoire Lake Provincial Park, Janvier, and nearby work camps that pull water from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Water Treatment Plant, as a precautionary measure.
  • Area camps that get water from EPCOR, or any provider other than the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, are not affected and do not need to boil water, at this time.
    • Please Note: Fort McKay residents do not need to boil water before using. This boil-water advisory excludes Fort McKay.
  • Alberta Health Services has issued an air-quality advisory for the Fort McMurray area, as well as a precautionary advisory for 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.

Information for students in Kindergarten to Grade 12:

  • Students displaced from Fort McMurray and surrounding communities are encouraged to register in a school to continue their studies. For further information, please contact https://education.alberta.ca/alberta-education/school-authority-index/.
  • Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs) for Grades 6 and 9 have been cancelled for students in the Fort McMurray Public School District, Fort McMurray Roman Catholic School District, Anzac and Fort McKay schools within Northland School Division, and École Boréal within Greater North Central Francophone Education Region (Conseil scolaire Centre-Nord).  Any student who wishes to take their PAT exam can do so in the school where they have registered.
  • Alberta Education will provide an update on the status of June diploma exams for students within affected school authorities as soon as information becomes available.

Information for post-secondary students:

  • Keyano College’s Clearwater and Industrial campuses are closed until further notice. Please check the Keyano website for the most up-to-date information.
  • Apprentices or journeypersons from the Fort McMurray area who have questions should call the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Information line at 1-800-248-4823, Monday through Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or visittradesecrets.gov.ab.ca.
  • Post-secondary students with questions about Alberta student loans can call 1-855-606-2096, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Alberta Culture and Tourism information:

  • People displaced by the wildfires are invited to take time with family and friends with free regular admission to any of Alberta’s 17 provincially owned and operated historic sites and museums, May 15 to September 5. Just present your photo ID or provide your postal code. For more information, visit www.culture.alberta.ca/.

Services for affected residents

  • Residents receiving benefits from the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) program by cheque rather than electronic deposit, and who are affected by the wildfire in Fort McMurray, are advised to call the Athabasca AISH office at 780-675-6853 during regular office hours or visit Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH).
  • For information on child intervention and child care, Fort McMurray and area residents may contact 1-800-638-0715.
  • For Family Support for Children with Disabilities, Fort McMurray and area residents may contact 780-427-2551 (toll free in Alberta, dial 310-0000).
  • Information on emergency benefits for eligible Albertans in need is here Emergency benefits to eligible Albertans in need.
  • Alberta Works clients who receive benefits by cheque rather than electronic deposit, and who are affected by the wildfire in Fort McMurray, can call the 24-hour Income Support Contact Centre at 1-866-644-5135 (then press 1) or within Edmonton call 780-644-5135.
  • Clients can also send an email to iscc@gov.ab.ca to find out how to receive benefits.
  • If persons with developmental disabilities, their families or contracted service providers need human, financial, or in-kind assistance to connect with loved ones, find accommodations or provide assistance to individuals receiving PDD supports, please contact the Persons with Developmental Disabilities Program Branch at 780-427-1177 ext#3 or as an alternate Disability Services at 780-415-2466 or visit Persons with Developmental Disabilities.
  • For additional information on social benefits, affected individuals can contact Alberta Supports at 1-877-644-9992.
  • Support for LGBTQ2S evacuees is available through The Pride Centre of Edmonton. Drop-in hours are Monday and Wednesday, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Road closures

  • At present, travel on Highway 63 and Highway 881 is still restricted.
  • Traffic control points are currently in effect at:
    • Hwy 63/881 Junction.
      • Southbound traffic from Fort McMurray is allowed. Only emergency responders and disaster relief efforts are being allowed to travel north of the junction.
    • Hwy 63/Parsons Creek Interchange (north end Fort McMurray).
      • RCMP are controlling all southbound traffic.
  • Highway 881 is closed between the Highway 63 junction and Conklin due to wildfire.
  • Southbound travel from the Hwy 63/881 junction can only travel down Highway 63.
  • People leaving the Anzac area can travel south down Highway 881. There is no northbound travel from Conklin on Highway 881.
  • There are also information points in place at Highway 63/55 and Highway 881/858.
  • Only emergency responders and people involved in disaster relief efforts are being allowed into Fort McMurray.

Donations and volunteers

  • Anyone who wants to help with a donation can contact the Canadian Red Cross at redcross.ca or 1 800-418-1111.
  • The Municipal District of Wood Buffalo is not accepting donations at this time.

Photo by PremierofAlberta