With files from Shelby Thom
The Alberta government has declared a provincial state of emergency over the wildfire that has brutalized Fort McMurray.
This as alarming damage reports roll in from in and around Fort McMurray, and the wildfire that forced mass evacuations continues to burn.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says that roughly 1,600 structures in the city have been destroyed by the fire.
Flights in and out of Fort McMurray Int’l Airport have now been suspended and a boil water advisory has now been issued for the region.
Notley says dialogue with the Federal Government has begun on what needs to happen next.
“We’ve begun conversations with our federal partners about work that will need to be done with respect to restoration and recovery, once the fire is brought under control.”
The regional municipality of Wood Buffalo has also released estimates on the damage, with the neighbourhood of Beacon Hill looking to be the worst hit.
Aid from B.C.
To make matters worse, a wildfire here in B.C. could soon spread to Alberta The Siphon Creek fire Northeast of Fort St. John is burning only six kilometers of the Alberta border and will likely cross if current weather patterns hold. Chief Fire Information Officer, Kevin Skrepnek says that even if that fire crosses into Alberta, B.C. crews will fight it on both sides.
“If that fire does hit the border, B.C. is going to continue to action it on both sides of the boundary, which will hopefully take some pressure off of Alberta so they can re-allocate some of their resources to deal with the situation elsewhere, particularly in Fort McMurray.”
The fire is an estimated nine thousand hectares in size, and is currently completely uncontained. But because the current fire situation in B.C. is so bad, there won’t be any firefighters going to Alberta to help combat the blaze in Fort McMurray. Skrepnek says that in lieu of personnel, firefighting equipment is on its way to Alberta.
“We have offered Alberta the use of air tankers and equipment. We have met a request from them that came in last night for some specific equipment including some Mark 3 pumps and 4,000 lengths of fire hose, which is going to be en route there today to assist them”
Coulson Flying Tankers, owners of the Martin Mars waterbomber, are also sending a Sikorsky S-61 helicopter to help fight the fire. The City of Vancouver also says it’s dispatching two members from the the Vancouver Canada Taskforce to Alberta to bring back their observations to the team.
A harrowing ordeal
Many former British Columbians are among the throngs of Albertans forced from their homes as a wildfire wreaked havoc on Fort McMurray. Twenty-four year old Danielle Kvick spent four years living in Abbotsford while attending Summit Pacific College . That’s where she met her husband before the couple started a new life in Fort McMurray.
— Shelby Thom (@ShelbyThom980) May 5, 2016
She describes the scene as “the apocalypse” as walls of flames surrounded them on the highway as they fled for their lives.
She is optimistic that her home is still standing, but her co-workers aren’t so lucky.
“The girls that I work closely with, they set up a Facebook group and checking in making sure everyone is ok. Alot of my co-workers have definitely lost their homes. There has been no human casualties as of yet so we are all holding on to that and just trying to wait it out and see what the real damage is.”
The pair drove seven hours before spending the evening in a generous stranger’s home.
She doesn’t know what her next move will be.
Click below for full coverage of the disaster in Fort McMurray