The Alberta government declared a provincial state of emergency in Fort McMurray on May 4th.
The Department of National Defence is also ready to offer logistical support. Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee says the decision came after Premier Rachel Notley saw the severity and scope of the situation first hand.
“To better support the municipalities and their emergency operations in Fort McMurray, the provincial state of emergency will enable us to bring more measures to support those operations to the table. A provincial state of emergency will also allow additional resources from outside the province,” says Larivee.
The wildfire has burned more than 10,000 hectares of land and destroyed 1,600 structures. About 250 firefighters are battling the blaze, alongside air tankers and helicopters.
Senior Manager of Wildfire, Agriculture and Forestry Chad Morrison says they’re still experiencing extreme conditions that are rapidly changing.
“Very hot and dry conditions out there with extreme wildfire behaviours occurring on all fronts around the fire at this time. Winds have shifted and they’re blowing from the west about 25 gusting to 40 [kilometres an hour]. Reports on the ground are likely that the fire’s going to be around the 10,000 hectare mark.”
Over 80,000 people have evacuated the area; roughly 10,000 evacuees headed north and are staying in oil and gas camp, while the other 70,000 headed to the south of the province where more evacuation centres are being set up, including Lac La Biche.
Some people are even heading to Lloydminster. Microtel in town has reportedly offered to take in several Fort McMurray families free of charge. As well, Marketing and Communications Director at Lakeland College, Colleen Symes, says that the college is a designated evacuation point, but at this time, the school has not received any notice to expect evacuees. The call on whether or not the institution will be setup to house evacuees, would be made by the Alberta Emergency Management Agency.
Two other wildfires in the province broke out Wednesday, May 4th, and have also spurred evacuations in the High Level area and Lac Ste. Anne County.