Update 7: Fort McMurray Wildfire (May 7 at 8 p.m.)

Update 7: Fort McMurray Wildfire (May 7 at 8 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 wildfire will cover more than 200,000 hectares by midnight and will continue to grow.
  • Convoys of evacuee vehicles began at 6 a.m. this morning and are expected to finish by the end of the day. Traffic is flowing south on Highway 63 from the Parsons Creek Interchange under RCMP control. As many as 2,400 vehicles were able to travel safely in convoys through to south of Fort McMurray yesterday.
  • Convoys of 30 trucks carrying essential equipment to support critical industrial services began today from a staging area 12 kilometres south of Fort McMurray to north of Fort McMurray and will provide supplies and support for various industrial facilities.
  • There are more than 500 firefighters battling the blaze in and around Fort McMurray, along with 15 helicopters, 14 air tankers and 88 other pieces of equipment.

Emergency Financial Assistance – Debit Cards

  • $1,250 per adult and $500 per dependent in emergency financial assistance will be provided to people who have been displaced.
  • This assistance will likely be provided in the form of pre-loaded debit cards.
  • Details on when this assistance will be available and how to access it will be available beginning on May 11, 2016.  Government of Alberta offices will not have additional information until this time. When details are available they will be posted on this page and available through 310-4455.
  • In order to allow for immediate distribution to people who are most urgently in need of this assistance, we’re asking evacuees who aren’t in dire need of these funds to not claim them immediately.

Evacuation information

  • Calgary’s reception centres at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and Ambrose University College are at capacity. The reception centre at the University of Calgary Dining Centre (124 University Gate NW) continues to welcome evacuees.
  • There are currently 12 reception centres operating within the province. Additional details are available on the Alberta government emergency updates website:
    • 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
    • Grasslands – Community Hall, Main Street
    • Drayton Valley – Omniplex – 5737-45 Avenue
    • Smoky 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
    • Town of Bonnyville – location details to come
    • Cold Lake – location details to come
  • Preliminary re-entry planning is underway, including preparing for co-ordinated damage assessments and ensuring that vital emergency services and utilities are back online and operating safely. It’s important to note, there is no date for re-entry yet.
  • Fire conditions remain extreme, with 12 new starts across Alberta yesterday. A total of 43 wildfires are burning, with seven out of control, one being held, 29 under control and six turned over to the responsible parties.
  • A fire from British Columbia is encroaching on the boundary and we’ve begun attacking it from the Alberta side, working with B.C. firefighters. The fire was located 108 kilometres northwest of Fairview. Another fire, north of Red Earth, is 25 per cent contained. Neither is threatening any communities.
  • The temperature forecast for Sunday is 15C with winds gusting up to 60 kilometres per hour. There is the potential for showers in the Fort McMurray area.
  • More than 1,400 firefighters, about 133 helicopters, 200 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.

Information for affected residents

  • All evacuees should register with the Red Cross – no matter where you are currently. This will help ensure you have access to the services you may need. Register:
  • So far, 34,635 households have registered with the Red Cross.
  • 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. This boil-water advisory excludes Fort McKay. About 200 vulnerable residents have been evacuated from the community.
  • 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. Just present your photo ID or provide your postal code 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 in Edmonton 780-644-5135.
  • 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 Monday and Wednesday, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., 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.

Economic Development and Trade is coordinating donations from international sources and has been in contact with several foreign embassies regarding the status of their citizens in the impacted areas. International citizens impacted by the evacuations are encouraged to register with their home embassy.


Backgrounder: Previous Updates