Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Fort McMurray - Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Fire Resource Page

Wildfire hits northern community of Ft. McMurray

Updated: 05-17-2016 07:03 MDT
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All information listed below was valid at last update post time. Information contained below may expire at anytime. This resource page will remain as an archive of information.

As of 6:00 PM MDT, May 16, 2016, the wildfire continues to cause significant problems in the Fort McMurray region. A new series of voluntary evacuation orders has been issued by the Regional Municipality of Wood-Buffalo and Fort McMurray along with Fort Mackay. The majority of resources and information listed below were for use during the initial evacuations set out on May 3rd. The initial disaster has forced residence in the region to remain out of the area. We initially frooze this page on May 14th, believing this event had passed and risk of further damage to the municipality significantly reduced as all residence had successfully been evacuated. The oil sands industry had commenced restarting of large facilities north of Fort McMurray when high winds began to develop. As a result, we have reactivated this page and continue to monitor the area for further updates.

Wildfire with northerly heading winds on 05-16-2016 at 20:15 MDT Image recorded by DDRS using EOSDIS and MODIS Satellite imagery data published by the US Forestry Service.

A large wildfire has severely damaged and destroyed large portions of the region. An estimated 88,000 people have evacuated the region of Wood Buffalo - Fort McMurray. The following is a resource page for use by the general public. It is NOT an authorized page or official government source of information. It is based on confirmed and relevant information that can be used to further investigate the situation in the Fort McMurray area. Local State of Emergency was declared May 1st, 2016 at 10:00 AM local time.

This fire is probably the largest to hit a country since the Kelowna Fires of 2003. It's the second major fire since 2000 to destroy property in Alberta, the other being the 2011 Slave Lake fire. This fire has forced the second largest civilian population evacuation in Canadian history, since the Mississauga Chemical Train derailment in 1979 when 200,000+ people displaced.

To give perspective of the size of this wildfire engulfing Fort McMurray, it has burned an area the size of Chicago and Boston - combined. By 05-07-2016, this wildfire is expected to double in size exceeding 200,000 hectares. It is currently 204,000+ hectares as shown in Satellite images listed below.

This page will be updated regularly as is possible. Once the disaster is fully contained, a notice at the top and bottom of this page will state "No further updates"

If you have confirmed information that can be useful, tweet this information to us at @DDRSNGO or leave a comment below.

Under NO circumstances as a civilian or non-accredited Non-Governmental Organization should head towards Fort McMurray - Wood - Buffalo in an attempt to help others. You will be turned back by Public Safety Officials under the authority of the Province of Alberta's Emergency Management Act. There are reports on Facebook of announcements of good Samaritans heading towards the fire to help.

Transport Canada has tweeted a reminder, only with prior permission can UAV's or Drones be flown ANYWHERE a declared Wildfire location and State of Emergency exist. There are water Bomber and Spotter (Bird Dog) aircraft flying at VERY low altitudes above ground level in restricted air space.

We recommend if you are on Facebook with a Safety check in to assure friends and family that you are okay.

The Province of Alberta has put in place a temporary ban on all personal and civilian use of all off-road highway vehicles on public lands and trails including ATV's and recreational trucks. It does not include farm vehicles and First Nation's use of vehicles on their lands. 05-06-2016

By no means is this the only emergency evacuation currently in place in the Province. Two others exist including Alexis Sioux Nation and Glenevis areas in Lac St. Anne County in addition to Mackenzie County. It should also be noted, 40+ other wildfires are burning in the province with 1,110 firefighters, 145 helicopters, 138 pieces of heavy equipment and 22 air tankers fighting the fires. You can find additional information on these fires under Technical Resources farther down in this report.
  • Fort Mackay now under a voluntary evacuation order (05-07-2016 12:00 local time)
  • 18 new wildfires since May 1, 2016
  • 12 Fires held, 33 contained or under control, 7 managed locally
  • Total Fires burning in Province: 40
Affected areas nearby Fort McMurray include:
  • County of Lac Ste Anne Evacuation order has been lifted (23:00 Hrs - 05/05/2016 local time)
  • Evacuation Orders announced for the following Hamlets in the Wood Buffalo region:
    • Anzac
      • The fire has reached this area (05-06-2016 - 11:45 PM Local Time)
    • Gregoire
    • Stone Creek
    • Birchwood Trails
    • Fort McMurray First Nation
Image Courtesy of Google Disaster Response Team (c) 2016
Type of Disaster: Wildfire
Location: Fort McMurray - Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
BBC published Before / After Satellite Imagery of Fort McMurray

Coordinates and list of Maps

  • 56° 43′ 35″ N, 111° 22′ 49″ W
  • GPS - 56.726389, -111.380278
  • Elevation: 260 Meters / 850'
  • Population: 68,000+ Regional: 88,000
  • Area: 59.89 sq. kilometers (23.12 sq miles)
  • Status of Fire: Not contained. Initially 5,000 Hectares and now over 165,000+ hectares (05-08-2016)
    • Winds overnight continue to fuel fire.
    • Overnight temperatures beginning to cool.
    • Sustained rainfall forecast is unknown.
    • Size of wildfire expanding eastward
      • Anzac (fire under control, but damage has occurred)
      • Gregoire Lake Estates
  • Fatalities: 2 (Highway 881 Evacuation Accident)
  • 2,400 structures destroyed or heavily damaged as of 05/07/2016. See Damage Assessment at bottom of page.
  • Conditions: Temperatures above normal by 15-30 Degrees Celsius during the day.
  • State of Emergency declared by Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation May 3, 2016.
  • State of Emergency Declared by Province of Alberta: May 5, 2016.
  • Areas affected: Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo - Fort McMurray including Beacon Hill, Abasand, Waterways, Draper, Saline Creek, Grayling Terrace, Downtown Fort McMurray, Thickwood, Timberlea, Dickinsfield, Wood Buffalo and Anzac
  • Weather Conditions and Forecast
Imagery Credit: NASA and U.S. Forest Service. Image recorded by DDRS using KML files made available May 4 2016
US Forestry Service in Cooperation with NASA EOSDIS Satellite Imagery
Recorded by DDRS May 5 2016 @ 16:00 Hours with KML Files imported into Google Earth
05-07-2016 11:30 MDT with updated data from NASA using VIIRS Satellite @NASANPP
05-07-2016 14:00 MDT NASA VIIRS Satellite Image
05-08-2016 09:30 MDT NASA VIIRS Satellite Image
Recorded by DDRS on 05-12-2016 06:30 MDT Note number of new hot spots has dropped significantly. Fire has not expanded significantly since 05-10-2016 Data supplied by NASA VIIRS Satellite. 
  • Official Twitter account of RM of Wood Buffalo: @RMWoodBuffalo
  • Provincial Ministry Offices: Closed until further notice
  • City Wild Fire Updates
  • Utilities: 
    • Residential and commercial Gas service has been shut off. Twitter: @ATCOGas
    • Water Boiling Advisory in effect in all evacuation centers and camps including Fort McMurray.
    • Water Treatment plant: Operating (fire crews have contained fire surrounding it as of 08:00 05/05/2016)
    • Water mains and residential supply lines damaged throughout the city.
    • Electrical Power partially operating throughout the city.
    • See post fire assessment for additional information.


  • Public Schools
    • All Closed (all schools intact, no significant damage)
    • Evacuees that have arrived in Edmonton can enroll their children in temporary classes by simply going to nearest school to sign up and determine where children will be registered. The same applies to Catholic schools. 


All civilian and commercial flight crews should check for restricted NOTAM'S in the Fort McMurray and Fort Mackay area.
  • Fort McMurray Airport (YMM): Twitter: @FlyYMM
    • Closed to all Commercial Air Traffic
      • RCAF deployed Operation LENTus 16-01
        • 4 CH-146 Griffon Helicopters - Deployed
        • CH-47 Chinook - Deployed 
        • 1 CC-130J Hercules - Deployed
        • Airlift & Support Helicopters
      • Contracted civilian commercial aircraft have commenced evacuation of those who were trapped north of Fort McMurray after leaving the city. Departure Airport: Fort Mackay Airports (3)
      • Fort McMurray CYMM Webcam
      • Airport opens to military relief flights (05-10-2016)
    • See SITREP section below for additional updated Evacuation Information.
      • Fire heading towards Airport as of 17:30 local time May 5, 2016 - Fire Contained - No damage to runways.
      • Fire now burning on airport property as of 21:00 local time (05-05-2016) - Contained (05-06-2016)
      • New Airport facility is not damaged as of 08:30 05/05/2016.
      • Airport Fire Station damaged
      • Several structures on Old Airport Road are damaged.
      • Twitter: @FlyYMM
      • Fort McMurray Water Aerodrome Status unknown. (CES7)

Alternate Airports

  • Athabasca Airport (CYWM)
    • The Athabasca Regional Airport is a registered Aerodrome located approximately 1.5 km east of Athabasca on Hwy 55, and approximately 1.5 km north on Range Road 221. GPS coordinates for the airport are: 54°44′35″N 113°12′19″W
      • Runway 4,000 x 100 Asphalt (16/34) 1,971 MSL
  • Fort Mackay / Albian Aerodrome (CAL4)
  • Fort Mackay / Horizon Airport (CYNR)
      • 6,000 x 100 Asphalt (17/35)
  • Fort Mackay / Firebag Airport (CFG6)
  • Heliport: Anzac (Long Lake) Heliport (CN22)




RCMP Fort McMurray Detachment #YmmFire Operations
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment: 
    • 300 police officers deployed throughout the city augmented by other detachments from the province.
    • 911 service: operational
    • 105 Paquette Drive (780) 788-4000
    • RCMP Wood Buffalo
    • Twitter: @RCMPAlberta
  • RCMP to escort convoy leaving Ft. McMurray SOUTH on Highway 63. on May 6, 2016. Status: Underway (05-06-2016)

Fire Department 

  • Operational & deployed (780) 792-5500
  • EMS Services: Operational
    • Fire Hall 1 - 2 Tolen Drive, Ft. McMurray: Operational
    • Fire Hall 2 - Gregoire (911 Call Center)
    • Fire Hall 3 - 101 Cornwall Drive: Operational
    • Fire Hall 4 - 101 Paquette Drive: Status Unknown
    • Fire Hall 5 - 200 Airport Road: Operational
  • Curently with augmented resources, over 500 FF are deployed throughout the municipality and forests affected.

Roads & Highways

  • Highway 63
    • Northbound to city: Closed south of Highway 69
    • Southbound out of city: Open for evacuation
    • Northbound out of city: Open for evacuation
      • Some closures may exist near airport due to smoke
    • Southbound to city: Closed north of city limits at Parsons Creek Interchange
    • Highway Traffic Cameras Highway 63
    • Highway 881 is now under restricted access
      • Reopened after fatal car / truck accident
    • Twitter: Alberta Transportation @ABTransComm
    • Map of all Highways and conditions in Alberta
    • Highway #881: Temporarly CLOSED Until further notice (05-06-2016 AM) - Expired.


    • Telephone Services
      • Landlines Operating
      • Wireless - Mobile phones Operating including Internet and txt (Update: Cell Tower vulnerable to fire threat as of 08:30 05/05/2016 local time)
      • Internet Access Operating where available
    • Television: Remote services operating 
    • Local Newspaper Fort McMurray Today @FortMacToday
    • Radio 
      • CBC Radio: Operating but may go off air without notice
      • Radio Stations 
FrequencyCall signBrandingFormatOwnerNotes
91.1CKOS-FMKAOS 91.1ChristianKing’s Kids Promotions Outreach Ministries
93.3CJOK-FMCountry 93.3countryRogers Radio
94.5CFWE-FM-5CFWE Radio NetworkFirst Nationscommunity radioAboriginal Multimedia SocietyRebroadcasts CFWE-FM Edmonton.
96.7CKUA-FM-11CKUA Radio Networkpublic broadcastingCKUA Radio FoundationRebroadcasts CKUA-FM Edmonton.
97.9CKYX-FMRock 97.9active rockRogers Radio
99.3CBXN-FMCBC Radio Onepublic news/talkCanadian Broadcasting CorporationRebroadcasts CBX Edmonton.
100.5CHFT-FM100.5 Cruz FMclassic hitsHarvard Broadcasting
101.5CHFA-6-FMIci Radio-Canada Premièrepublic news/talkCanadian Broadcasting CorporationFrench; rebroadcasts CHFA Edmonton.
103.7CFVR-FMMix 103.7hot adult contemporaryHarvard Broadcasting

Software Applications for Smart Phones

Follow each link separately

Mail and Freight Services

 Emergency Services 

    • Alberta Red Cross - Twitter: @RedCrossAB
    • Evacuees should contact Red Cross at 1-888-350-6070 to register their location. It’s important to register to ensure officials know how to reach you and to verify you got out safely.
    • Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society
      • Operating and collecting supplies
      • Distribution: TBA
    • Community Crowdsource Support Services YMMHELP.COM

Evacuation Centers & Shelters

    • Red Cross Alberta online Registration Page
    • If you are registering a family of over 8 people, please phone 1-888-350-6070. The Red Cross has opened additional call centers. 

      It is ESSENTIAL evacuees register with the Red Cross in order to receive Alberta Government assistance. Even if you have checked in with a evacuation center, the online registration data will then be transferred to the Government to disburse funds to those affected.
    • Fort McMurray Evacuation Resource Center
      • Little is known about who operates this resource
    • In anticipation of Fort McMurray evacuees arriving in Calgary, we are working with partner institutes to secure temporary shelter in Calgary for evacuees. A reception centre for Fort McMurray evacuees has been established at: Southern Alberta Institute of Technology Residence Tower 151 Doctor Carpenter Circle NW Calgary, Alberta T2M0L4
    • MacEwan University: The downtown Edmonton university will be opening its student residences on Wednesday for evacuees. It has 215 beds available starting Wednesday night. They have enough parking for 800 vehicles, including RVs and motor homes. Food services are also available.
    • Northlands has opened a shelter center at Rexall Place including space for RV Parking Edmonton Northlands, Halls A and D 7515 118 Ave NW GPS53.5680153,-113.4547537
    • Camps normally used for oil rig and tar sands mining have been converted into makeshift evacuation centers. Most are already full with limited supplies. (Evacuated 05-08/09-2016)
      • Evacuations from these Camps is in progress including those in Fort Mackay.
    • Mackenzie County (High Level) Town of High Level office 10511 - 103 Street, High Level 780-927-3718
    • The County of Lac La Biche has set up an evacuation centre at the Bold Center. Three-hundred camping stalls have also been set up, and additional rooms have been made available in surrounding hamlets. Those looking for accommodations in the area are asked to check in first at the Bold Center. GPS Coordinates:54.768876, -111.948362
    • A Volunteer Shelter Hosting service for those wanting to offer shelter to those in need has a Google Docs web form for those willing to help. 
    • Alberta Camping Ground Locations
    • Suncor Firebag Village (near Fort Mackay) Approximately 21km north of Fort McMurray Take Hwy 63 to Suncor exit, follow signs, staff will direct you to appropriate location. GPS Coordinates: 57.238621, -110.892721
    • Children's autism sevices is opening it's doors to welcome families from Fort Mac that have children with autism and the community. We will do what we can to support your immediate needs. An understanding environment for your family to be able to rest an take a much needed break. Please contact Candice Quinlan at (780) 913-1657 or tweet me at @QuinlanCandice
    • Town of Athabasca Reception Center - Athabasca Multiplex, #2 University Drive (780) 675-2967
    • Showers
    • All four YMCA locations in Edmonton are open to Wood Buffalo evacuees who can access drop-in facilities and showers, including;
      • Don Wheaton YMCA at 10211 102 Ave.
      • Jamie Platz YMA at 7121 178 St.
      • Castle Downs YMCA at 11510 153 Ave.
      • William Lutzky YMCA at 1975 111 St.
      • The Fraser Community League at 14720 21 St. is offering itself as a well-stocked relief centre for evacuees entering Edmonton from the northeast. Fort McMurray evacuees are invited to stop in for food, supplies and first aid while community league members are opening up their homes for showers.


Transportation Alberta did send refueling tankers up and down Highway 63 during evacuation on the night of May 4th into the morning hours of May 5th for those motorist stranded when they ran out of fuel. It is believed this service has now been terminated as of 18:00 Hrs Mountain Time May 5, 2016. Twitter: @ABTransComm - Expired

Alberta gvt confirms emergency fuel locations (to get you as far as the next major fuel station) continues to remain VALID as of 15:00 05-08-2016 local time are available at:

      • UPDATE: (13:00 Local Time - 05/08/2016)
        • Updates on Twitter: @511Alberta
        • Fuel including Diesel, now available on Highway 63 South at Safety Rest areas: 
        • 60 km South - Mile marker 186 - Expired
        • 100 km South - Mile Marker 130 - Expired
        • 165 km south - Mile Marker 165 - Expired
        • Emergency Fuel at Hanging Stone Highway Maintenance Center is now CLOSED.
        • 40 Km South, 2 km south of Stoney Mountain Junction Road at Hangingstone in Highway Maintenance Yard.
        • 60 km South - 25 km south of Stoney Mountain Junction Road, parked in Safety Rest Area
        • Food, Water and Sanitation available at these safety rest areas.
        • Fuel will be supplied in quantities to get you to the next available public fuel station.
        • 50,000 liters of fuel is available for emergency use, 30 kilometers north of Fort McMurray on the southbound ramp of Suncor Voageur Interchange. Quantities will be restricted and are for use to evacuate south of Fort McMurray. - Expired

Pets and Animals

    • Fort McMurray SPCA safely evacuated all animals from its shelters. Twitter: @FMSPCA
      • Working to evacuate pets left behind during mandatory evacuation with RMWB shown below.
    • Edmonton Human Society can help support emergency shelter for animals left behind in Fort McMurray area if they are retrieved. Supporters of Alberta Animal Rescues (SOAAR)
    • Fort McMurray - Wood Buffalo city officials have prepared for an Emergency Pet Rescue search throughout the City for those that had to leave animals behind during evacuation. To have your pet rescued, sign up HERE.

Financial Aid

Keep all your receipts. Depending on the type of house and personal insurance you have, your expenses could be reimbursed.
    • Financial Disaster Aid program available from ATB Financial - 1-800-332-8383 (7 AM - 11 PM local time)
    • Insurance Bureau of Canada's consumer information line for assistance at 1-844-227-5422 or by email at
    • Unemployment Insurance Benefits (GoC)


Currently road conditions south on Highway 63 is moving slowly near towns as people line up for fuel and supplies. Some locations are running low on essentials. Service stations in some cases are limiting fuel to 50 Liters to ensure everyone can get some fuel. See section labelled FUEL. - Expired.

Air Quality in region is poor. In some parts of the region, the air quality is three times over recorded averages scaled 1 - 10. Fort McMurray has recently recorded Air Quality index readings of 38. Readings are updated daily. 05-17-2016

Sustained Rain is not forecast as of 05-08-2016 to fall in region is unkown. - Expired.

Fire Department resources:

Over 500 firefighters from various neighboring fire departments have deployed to this wildfire.
  • Airdrie (4 FF and Tender)
  • Busby (FF and EQ)
  • Calgary (27 FF & Support Staff)
  • Carstairs (FF and EQ)
  • Coledale (FF)
  • Fort Chipewyan (FF)
  • Fort Mackay (FF and EQ)
  • Hinton (FF)
  • Wild Mountain Unit, Hinton (FF)
  • Leduc (FF and EQ)
  • Red Deer (FF and EQ)
  • St. Albert (FF and Tanker, Ladder)
  • Strathcona (20 FF)
  • Yellowhead (FF)
  • Province of New Brunswick (20 FF)
  • Province of Ontario (80 FF)
  • Province of Quebec (40 FF)

Post May 4th Evacuation Operations

May 5/6 - 2016

Airport Operations

Fort McMurray Airport (CYMM) Continues to be closed to Commercial Air Traffic. Check website or their twitter account for updates.

Fort Mackay (CYNR) (CAL4) (CFG6)
  • Airlift by contracted civilian commercial aircraft commenced evacuation of those who were trapped north of Fort McMurray at the following camps:
    • Suncor Energy Camp
    • Syncrude Cam
    • Tar Island
    • Fort Mackay
  • It is estimated that approximately 9,000 residence will be moved throughout this evening using buses to get flights from Fort Mackay's three private industrial airstrips. (05-05-2016) - Expired.
    • 4,000 residence have already departed as of 22:00 hours local time 05-05-2016. 
    • Airlift Completed (03:00 Local Time 5-06-2016)

Highway 63 

  • An estimated 20 - 25,000 residence will be escorted by RCMP on Highway 63 South beginning Friday morning. 
      • Completed
    • Registration for Convoys is being held at northern camp sites. Expired.
    • Departure: Expired. (05-06-2016)
    • Convoys being escorted by RCMP on ground and in the air. Expected to continue until 05-10-2016. Expired.
    • UPDATE: 05-06-2016 - As of 15:00 Hrs local time, convoy heading south have been halted due to fire approaching Highway 63 South. - Expired.
    • RCMP Control Check Point north of Airport on Highway 63 will CLOSE for evening at 22:00 local time 05-06-2016 until 06:00 - 05-07-2016 pending fire conditions. - Expired.
    • As of 05-06-2016 @ 19:00 Local Time, 2,500 cars with 7,500 people were successfully escorted south on Highway 63 out of Fort McMurray - Fort Mackay. Completed.
    • RCMP have halted convoys heading south early due to safety concerns as of 19:00 local time 05-06-2016. Check @RCMPAlberta for latest information. Expired.
    • As of 05-07-2016 @ 08:00 Local Time, Convoys have again begun to move through Fort McMurray towards Highway 63 South. - Expired.
    • It is anticipated that the majority of evacuees from north of Fort McMurray will be completed on evening of 05-07-2016. Check with RCMP twitter for further updates on 05-08-2016. - Expired.
As of 05-09-2016, 30,000 residence have evacuated and registered in the following locations:
  • Edmonton: 30,000 (est)
  • Calgary: 5,000 (est)
  • Lac la Biche: 2,500 (est)
  • Fort Chipewyan: 200 (est)
It is still unclear where other residences have temporarily relocated. Some are likely still in Provincial Parks and other towns such as Athabasca. Many were Eastern Province Maritime migrant workers and flew home.

Other Civic and Government organizations supporting response to wildfire.
  • Government of Canada Operations Center: Monitoring
  • Canadian Forces: Deploying personnel and aircraft
  • Firefighters increased from 100 to 275 (05-04-2016)
  • Firefighters 500+ (05-07-2016)
    • 100 Firefighters from Ontario dispatched (05-05-2016)
    • 62 Firefighters from Mexico dispatched (05-05-2016)
  • Aerial Tankers (44) and Helicopters Operating (15) as of 05-07-2016
    • 4 Tankers from Quebec dispatched (05-05-2016)
    • 1 Tanker has had landing accident (flight crew safe)
  • Canada Taskforce 2 (Calgary AB), consists of team of:
    • 50 disaster-management specialists from across central and southern Alberta including search and rescue crews, paramedics, logistics specialists and emergency command staff. Twitter: @CanTF2


05-16-2016 - The oil sands project camps are currently under a voluntary evacuation notice for those south of Fort Mackay and the Syncrude mines. All camps north of Fort McMurray up to and including the Ruth Lake Camp, along with production facilities requiring the use of the Aostra Road. The wildfire is impacting approximately 50% of all oil sands production in the province.

Oilsands production halted at following sites:
  • Athabasca Oil Hangingstone Mine (05-06-2016)
    • Continues to be threatened by wildfire (05-11-2016)
    • Wildfire has returned - 05-16-2016
  • Cenovus Energy. Est restart: 05-15-2016
  • Imperial Oil Kearl Oil Sands. Est Restart: TBA
  • Leismer - Statoil ASA Est restart: TBA
  • Nexen Long Lake Est restart: TBA (Worker camp destroyed) 05-17-2016
  • Royal Dutch Shell Albian Oilsands Mine Restart: 05-09-2016
    • Camps on voluntary evacuation as of 05-16-2016
  • Suncor Base Mine Est Restart: 05-15-2016
    • Camps to be evacuated again as of 05-16-2016
  • Syncrude shutting down Aurora and Mildred Lake (including Upgrading complex) and evacuating all personnel. (05-07-2016) 
    • Camps to be evacuated once more as of 05-16-2016
    • Aurora Est restart: TBA
    • Mildred Lake Est restart: TBA
  • Enbridge Pipelines (shut down) Restart Est: 05-15-2016
    • Status currently not known as of 05-16-2016
  • 05-17-2016 Camps evacuated include:

    • Syncrude Facilities South of Fort MacKay 
    • Suncor Facilities South of Fort MacKay 
    • Millennium 
    • Borealis 
    • Hudson 
    • Ruth Lake 
    • Mildred Lake 
    • West Ells 
    • Baseline 
    • MacKay River 
    • Black Sands Lodge 
    • Brion Energy – MacKay 
    • Grizzly Oilsands – Thickwood 
    • MacKay River Lodge on Aostra 
    • Marathon Oil – Birchwood 
    • Noralta 
    • Poplar Creek – also called Birch 
    • Southern Pacific – STP MacKay 
    • Sunshine Oil Sands - West Ells
Map of camps north of Fort McMurray. Source Noralta 05-17-2016

Restarting at some of the oilsands projects will be dependent on water quality. Ash from the fire may have contaminated some supplies. 

Bus Line provider evacuates Ft. McMurray
  • Diversified Transportation Notice 
  • The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce is offering complimentary office space to businesses displaced by wildfires in the Wood Buffalo region at their World Trade Centre Edmonton building at 9990 Jasper Avenue. To book space, call 780-426-4620 or email or call 780-426-4620.

Additional information resources

Technical Data Resources:

Canadian Wild Fire Forecast courtesy Natural Resources Canada 
05-08-2016 Canadian Wildfire Forecast Map
courtesy Natural Resources Canada

News Stories

Damage Assessments

05-05-2016 13:30 Mountain Time

Source: Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo - Fort McMurray. Imagery provided by NASA 05-04-2016

These early assessments are not a thorough review of damage that has occurred in Wood - Buffalo - Fort McMurray neighborhoods. Approximately 2,400 structures were destroyed with the majority of them being residential. All of downtown was essentially saved from destruction along with 25,000 homes were not seriously damaged.
    • Waterways - 90% of residences destroyed
    • Beacon Hill - 70% of residences destroyed
    • Abasand - 50% of residences destroyed
    • Downtown - 1 residence destroyed
    • Hospital - intact
    • Gregoire Estates - TBA
    • Ptarmigan Court Trailer Park / Waterways - Severe
    • Anzac - 12 Structures destroyed 
Commercial & Retail Businesses
    • Airport Fire Hall damaged
    • Airport Main terminal - Intact
    • Some commercial buildings on Old Airport Road damaged.
    • Downtown - No damage
    • Abasand - TBA
    • Gregoire - TBA
    • Ptargmigan Commercial: Significant damage
Basic infrastructure to residential properties such as water, electrical and sewer lines where homes have been severely damaged or destroyed will require significant planning and repair time. The amount of cleaning and removal of contaminants is another factor that will require extensive analysis to determine the extent the damage inflicted in each community. 

Assessment - Phase II - The Road to Recovery

Beginning May 9, 2016, the next step in Fort McMurray and the Regional Municipality of Wood - Buffalo will begin. The assessment phase. Approximately 85% of the structures within Wood - Buffalo - Fort McMurray remain intact. The downtown core is completely undamaged.

It was announced by both local and provincial government leaders on 05-10-2016, the target to have first damage assessments completed within two weeks, approximately May 24, 2016.

Homes and apartments that appear to have no damage may still be uninhabitable because of surrounding infrastructure damage caused. Common problems include contaminated water supply lines due to exposure and leaks in the supply lines blocks away. 

Neighborhoods with entire blocks of homes destroyed will likely require major repair or replacement. 

Telephone and television wire and cable plant face the same obstacles.  

Slave Lake, Staten Island, Atlantic City and most cities in Louisiana and Florida faced these same technical and environmental problems after a major Disaster struck their cities. All have successfully rebuilt.

While it is far too early to estimate accurately, the cost of the damage and how long it will take to recover, there is little doubt that will exceeds 3 Billion (Cdn) dollars and will take at least 24-36 months before visible recovery is firmly established. Because large segments of the municipality will not require repair and reconstruction, assessment teams will be able to create a strategic plan to stabilize any critical repairs required and then turn the focus towards neighborhoods affected.

The above estimate was an analysis before it was known how many civic facilities were damaged. By 05-10-2016, it became clear that the majority of city managed facilities, schools and all major businesses in the downtown core were not damaged and would be in a position to open reasonably quickly.

As a result, the city's ability to resume regular services to the community could be sooner than initially determined. Reconstruction of homes will largely depend on insurance claim process and contractor availability. Some oil industry workers who lived in Fort McMurray and Wood-Buffalo may find they are split for a period of time. Employees may remain in their work camps for longer periods of time while their families continue to live remotely in Edmonton, Calgary, Lac la Biche, Fort Mackay and Anzac. 

Because of the size and complexity of assessments required, those wishing to return quickly to homes that are visibly not damaged, are likely to be advised not to do so, until city engineers augmented by other provincial experts can make the area safe. This may take as long as 30-60 days. Perhaps longer given the unique layout of infrastructure because of geography and age of each system. Nor is it possible to declare one residential area safe while next door is not without severely compromising risk to health and safety unless prepared in advance.

All three levels of government, local, provincial and federal will be investing significant financial capital, in order to rebuild Wood Buffalo - Fort McMurray. There will be a number of initiatives that will be carried out in order to begin the recovery and rebuilding process.

The provincial government in concert with the Regional Municipality of Wood - Buffalo - Fort McMurray has uploaded post wildfire imagery that is layered onto Civic Property LOT maps. The resolution is less than 20 meter. For insurance purposes it is likely not sufficient evidence to determine partially damaged structure assessment requirements until surveyed in person. (05-15-2016)

Core infrastructure such as roads and utilities will qualify for Federal government program assistance under the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangement (DFAA) agreement managed by Public Safety Canada. This program will bear the majority of the costs Fort McMurray and surrounding region face.

There will be bureaucratic delays (red tape) as is the case with all large disaster recovery operations. This cannot be avoided due to the nature of the disaster and limited resources a municipality of this size normally has on staff. The number of building permits and inspectors required will have to be augmented if reasonable time lines are to be achieved. This may not be possible in some cases due to the nature of the repairs required. 

A volunteer surveyor has put together an unofficial damage assessment that can be found HERE.


Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Do not expect Social Media to be accountable during a Crisis or Disaster

Social Media accountability: Zero

Who is responsible and accountable during a crisis for Crisis Response information? Photo (c) 2016 DDRS

The terrorist attacks that occurred this morning in Belgium killing over 30 people and hundreds of casualties has generated complaints that Facebook should have activated its Safety Check application for use by the public.

In an article by the Independent newspaper, they noticed Tweets complaining about the lack of response by Facebook and 'failure' to activate immediately its Safety Check application. The Washington Times also posted a story noting Facebook's delay.

Eventually it was turned on to allow people to check in via social media to see if loved ones were safe. It was a matter of time before some would complain and lash out at Facebook. Are such complaints warranted? Should they be held accountable and monitor world events? The answer is no.

In fact, large corporations like Facebook are diving into a space that they have little experience in managing. They are not public safety experts and nor are they in a position to be held accountable. There are several issues Facebook and other social media companies should be cautious and in some cases, not participate. Companies like Facebook have no jurisdiction when such events occur. The collection, usage and monitoring of an event for use in public safety is fraught with legal entanglements that could expose the company to litigation, let alone bad publicity.

To have a for profit company like Facebook, the consequences could be significant. There are numerous implications as well including privacy, data manipulation, archiving, and data security issues. Complicating it further is who makes the decision when to activate and what regions. Notification of its activation could easily spark further misinformation and generate fear that fuels further pandemonium.

Facebook is not a Public Safety Agency and nor are they a service provider to any government agency that recognizes it as such. There are no regulations or policy enforcement programs that support such actions that are compatible across multiple jurisdictions. Access to the information and how it is managed does not have any protocol or procedures that can be monitored by authorities to ensure it complies to local, regional, or national laws. Facebook's terms and conditions are already under the microscope at the European Union level, let alone Brussels.

Accountability of when, how and where alerting the public to its use creates further complications. Facebook may require an entire new organization that can properly fulfill such obligations and follow very specific laws that have ramifications that I doubt the company would desire.

Google's missing person's portal faces the same issues. It has only activated it during a large scale natural disaster when local and national resources are severely strained or completely destroyed. Even so, during such events, Google is entering the deep end of potential liability and accountability that could have repercussions down the road as potential expectations surface. Google has several disasters under its belt and frequently interacts with public safety agencies all over the world. It has a dedicated group that works with international disaster response teams and organizations which helps offset some of the concerns.

Google hasn't been criticized for not activating its missing persons portal in response to the Brussels attack. It is easy to suggest that Facebook is more in direct touch with the public than Google. That isn't really true. Google could easily create a link on the front of its search page for people to use, as it has in the past during large scale disasters. But nobody has complained.

Technology can and has a role to play during a man made or natural crisis or disaster. But there are limits. What the threshold is and who makes these decisions are difficult policy and regulatory issues that need a solution. There is media hype and public pressure to do something during a crisis. But what makes a terrorist attack a high priority than say a large structural fire, that may in fact, have a higher fatality rate? Does this mean that Facebook should be ready to activate and monitor every structural fire that occurs around the world? I think not. Nor should they be in the business of monitoring such events. That in itself is fraught with legal ramifications.

Public Safety agencies are the organizations with accountability, jurisdiction and the only entities that should be trusted to manage these issues. While it is true that many government agencies are in a difficult position, they ultimately should be the point of contact. Large global for profit corporations like Facebook, Google, or Twitter should not be critical to your need to determine family and friends safety. These tools can be helpful, but they should not be relied upon. Feel free to use them because they do not cost anything and are an excellent alternative if other means are not available. But do not demand that they be in service when YOU want them to be.