Plans are still on track to have Fort McMurray residents start to return home on June 1st. Scott Long with Alberta Emergency Management says they’ll be doing a re-entry rehearsal later this week to make sure officials are prepared.
“We’re going to go step-by-step in a detailed process through what we expect and hope to happen. We will question some of those assumptions and if we find that there’s a gap or something that we haven’t thought of, we will build it into the plan.
Part of that will be having information prepared for homeowners on how to deep clean their house if it wasn’t destroyed.
Some Fort McMurray-area oilsands facilities have restarted operations after last week’s evacuations. The evacuation orders were fully lifted over the weekend, but like the city’s residents, Minister of Municipal Affairs Danielle Larivee says there are conditions for the workers’ return.
“One is that wildfire is no longer an imminent threat and that air quality is within more reasonable levels. Currently, they are assessing conditions and working with the province and the Regional Municipality [of Wood Buffalo] to prepare for the re-entry of workers once re-entry conditions are met.”
Athabasca has resumed operations at its Hangingstone site and Suncor Energy is preparing for a staged restart of its operations. The only facility that was lost to the fire was the Blacksands Lodge work camp.
While much of the province dealt with a wet long weekend, the rain barely touched the Fort McMurray wildfire. The southern edge of the fire got between three and five millimetres of precipitation, while the northern edge of the fire where it’s burning most actively received none.
At the same time, Chad Morrison with Alberta Wildfire says they saw another 40 fire starts over the weekend in the province, mostly from abandoned campfires.
“Fortunately we’re talking about a small minority of folks that are leaving their campfires attended. The big thing is that we want people to know that when they’re done at the end of a long weekend or they’re done camping is to soak it, stir it, and soak it again and make sure it’s cold to the touch with their campfires.”
The fire is now burning 523,000 hectares, including 2,500 in Saskatchewan.