The 2016 wildfire of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, was a major natural disaster. It started on May 1 in a “remote part of forest southwest of Fort McMurray” (The Canadian Press, 2016). On the same day’s night, a local emergency was declared, and the first evacuation orders were issued (The Canadian Press, 2016). The fire is almost under control, but the atmospheric conditions change overnight, causing the situation to deteriorate by May 3 (The Canadian Press, 2016). The fire expanded rapidly, growing to 26km2, then 850km2 on May 5, and 2000km2 on May 7 (The Canadian Press, 2016). It caused significant damage to the town and kept moving north, threatening the surrounding oilsand work camps (The Canadian Press, 2016). The fire was finally deemed to be under control on July 4 (The Canadian Press). The total damage it caused makes it the costliest disaster in Canadian history.
Although the government’s response to the wildfire was fast, it was controversial. An official state of emergency was declared on May 4 (CTVNews.ca Staff, 2016). Over 88,000 residents of the area have been evacuated, but an estimated 2400 structures were destroyed, and the total damage, including environmental losses, is estimated at $9 billion (Alberta Government; GlobalNews.ca Staff, 2017). Besides evacuation aid, the government’s role in recovery aid included funding non-governmental and indigenous organizations supporting the recovery of the area, as well as relief funding for small businesses, totaling $30 million (Alberta Government). Other initiatives funded as part of the recovery efforts include mental health assistance, temporary housing for the evacuees, and improved environmental monitoring (Alberta Government). The recovery effort is still ongoing and is estimated to be completed in 2021.
Alberta Government. Home Again: Rrecovery After the Wood Buffalo Wildfire. Web.
CTVews.ca Staff. “Evacuation Order Expanded Ahead of Fort McMurray Fire.” CTVNews, Web.
GlobalNews.ca Staff. “Fort McMurray Wildfire: Study Pegs Cost of Lost Buildings, Income and Environmental Damage at $8.9B.” GlobalNews.ca, Web.
The Canadian Press. “A timeline of the Fort McMurray Wildfire, Canada’s News Story of 2016.” CityNews, Web.