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Fort McMurray update: Canadian Armed Forces no longer needed, Ft. Mac Fire Chief passing the torch

In just one day, the province has handed out more than $7 million of emergency funding to more than 6,000 evacuees from Fort McMurray.


The funding was made available to evacuees on Wednesday, May 11th, on cash cards, and Municipal Affairs Minister, Danielle Larivee, says a second centre, at which people can get the cards has been added in Edmonton.


“As expected, there were significant lineups at the four distribution centres. We continue to ask that those who are not in desperate need of funds to wait a few days; it will keep the lineups shorter for those who really need the support right now.”


Meanwhile, there is still no timeline on when evacuees will be able to return home, if they have a home to return to. The wildfire is currently spreading across 241,000 hectare, and while hotter weather is expected again starting this weekend, the good news is it will be coming from the southwest and continue to push the blaze away from the city, according to officials.

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The province says it’s no longer in need of support from the Canadian Armed Forces on the ground in Fort McMurray. Members helped in evacuating residents, providing supplies to isolated First Nations communities, and transported essential firefighting equipment and personnel.


Brigadier General Wayne Eyre says he knows the fight is not over and they be keeping staff at the Provincial Operations Centre in Edmonton.


“I just want to add how impressed we in your nation’s uniform have been with the professional response of the province and of the municipality. Moreover, the resiliency and compassion of our fellow Albertans. It makes us proud to be your Canadian Armed Forces.”


Additionally, Fort McMurray Fire Chief Darby Allen has stepped down as the Director of Emergency Management for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.


After a week of leading the fight against the wildfire in that community, he says he’ll be taking some time off to spend with his family, and will return to his duties as fire chief. The new Director is Bob Couture, a former RCMP superintendent.


“I was in a place where I told some people what to do and this is when we should do it, and all those hundreds of people did that for me so I praise them; I’m humbled by them and I’m proud to be part of that team,” says Allen.


For many, Allen was human face of efforts in fighting the fire, which left more than 2,400 structures destroyed, but another 25,000 saved.

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