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Canadian Disaster Database

Event CategoryDisaster
Event GroupNatural
Event SubgroupMeteorological - Hydrological
Event TypeWildfire
PlaceFort McMurray AB
Event Start DateApril 30, 2016
Event End DateJune 1, 2016
CommentsFort McMurray AB, April 30 to June 1, 2016. In May 2016, wildfires broke out in northern Alberta resulting in the most expensive natural disaster in the history of Canada. The city of Fort McMurray, located in the heart of the Athabasca oil sands, was hit by a massive system of wildfires that swept through the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. The first wildfire was discovered on April 30, north of Fort McMurray. The Regional Municipality declared a local state of emergency and a mandatory evacuation order for Centennial Park on May 1 as well as another evacuation order for Prairie Creek and Centennial Trailer Park on May 2. The Fort McMurray fire grew rapidly due to hot and dry weather conditions, doubling in size to 2,656 hectares in a manner of hours. On May 3, the wildfire intensified and crossed over Highway 63, cutting off the route to evacuees, prompting the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation to declare a state of local emergency and a mandatory evacuation order for Fort McMurray’s Lower Townsite and downtown area, which included the communities of Gregoire, Beacon Hill, Abasand, Waterways, Draper, Saline Creek, Grayling Terrace, Thickwood, Wood Buffalo and Dickinsfield. Later in the day the entire city of Fort McMurray was under a mandatory evacuation order. During the evacuations two people were killed in a car crash. On May 4, the Alberta government declared a provincial state of emergency. The Fort McMurray fire quickly grew to 85,000 hectares as the wildfire spread further north and east eventually passing through Fort McMurray. Evacuees that fled north of Fort McMurray had to be air lifted to safety. Some evacuees were taken to Lac La Biche, while the majority where sent to Edmonton and Calgary. On May 10, two of the main Fort McMurray fires joined together and formed a massive blaze of 229,000 hectares. On May 16, all workers in work camps and oil sand operations north of Fort McMurray were forced to move south as the wildfire spread further north. Residents of Fort McMurray were allowed to return home on June 1. In total, the Fort McMurray fires burned approximately 579,767 hectares of land causing the evacuation of over 90,000 people and destroyed 2,400 homes and business, including 530 other buildings that were damaged. At its peak, there were over 2000 firefighters working the fires daily, including helicopters and water bombers. In addition, firefighters received help from 200 firefighters from the United States, 60 from Mexico and 298 from South Africa. Firefighters and emergency response personnel received help from the Canadian Red Cross who assisted with evacuation efforts.
Injured / InfectedUnknown
Estimated Total Cost$4,068,678,000
Federal DFAA Payments$468,678,000
Provincial DFAA PaymentsUnknown
Provincial Department PaymentsUnknown
Municipal CostsUnknown
OGD CostsUnknown
Insurance Payments$3,600,000,000
NGO PaymentsUnknown
Utility - People AffectedUnknown