At tonight’s on-line town hall, residents of Fort McMurray heard the fire situation is still critical, with many new fires flaring up in the past 24 hours.
However, progress is being made on fighting the wildfire which began more than two weeks ago.
Alberta Wildfire spokesperson Chad Morrison says today the western flank of the wildfire moved towards the north as south winds pushed the fire parallel to the community. He says although the wildfire has crossed Tower Road, conditions look favourable tonight to fight the fire.
Morrison says firefighters had success in the south around Anzac and the Enbridge tank farm with the fire being held and as it moves closer to the Saskatchewan border, that province’s firefighters will be working on the eastern front.
Morrison added there were no significant issues in Timberlea or Thickwood and firefighters were deployed in both neighbourhoods today.
Blacksands Lodge was severely damaged though fire has not damaged Noralta Lodge.
Alberta Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Scott Long says despite fire activity workers have now activated 50 per cent of the power grid, work at the water plant is progressing, 390 Alberta Health Services workers continue with restoring the hospital, and the interim emergency medical clinic is up and running.
Long says six homes were lost on Dickens Road in Dickensfield and while the cause of fire is unknown the gas has been turned off in that area while it is being investigated. As well, six townhouses were lost in the Silin Forest Road fire last night.
Electricity was restored to most undamaged areas of Fort McMurray, Anzac, and Fort McMurray First Nations
Long says retailers were to be brought in to evaluate their stores and properties, but that effort has been delayed because of air conditions. He says they will eventually be brought in so residents will have those services when they return.
Long says the airport is fully functional and being used exclusively for firefighting aircraft.
He adds all schools are standing although some have minor damage.
Long says 32 kilometres of fencing is to be established by tomorrow around unsafe areas and they will begin re-entry procedures as soon as possible.
Long also reviewed the conditions for returning to Fort McMurray:
-Imminent threat of wildfire abated.
-Critical infrastructure restored to basic levels.
-Hazard area established.
-Local government back to normal.
Long says the mandatory evacuation still stands for camps and facilities north of Fort McMurray along Aostra Road. The fire is still 15 to 20 kilometres south of any oil and gas infrastructures, although both Suncor and Syncrude remain on alert.