Entire city evacuated due to wildfires
Emergency response is underway in Alberta, Canada, following wildfires that have led to the complete evacuation of the city of Fort McMurray—affecting nearly 90,000 residents and workers. The Salvation Army deployed four community response vehicles to the scene and is supporting more than 1,100 firefighters, police officers and other emergency personnel with the provision of cold drinks, snacks and full meals.
The area affected by the fires covers some 328 square miles and has led to at least 1,600 buildings being destroyed.
The Salvation Army’s established and well-rehearsed emergency protocols allowed for quick mobilization after the fires began May 1. A dedicated disaster response team set up at the Alberta and Northern Territories Divisional Headquarters in Edmonton to coordinate The Salvation Army’s ongoing response, and the team is working closely with other agencies to ensure that no needs go unmet.
Divisional Commander Major Ron Cartmell said the emergency response will continue long after the fire is brought under control: “Once people can return home, The Salvation Army will be present to provide practical support as well as emotional and spiritual care.”
Before the fires intensified and led to the city-wide evacuation of Fort McMurray, The Salvation Army was providing food and water, clothing and hygiene packages to displaced residents. All Salvation Army officers and staff in Fort McMurray were safely evacuated, and additional personnel were drafted in from elsewhere in Canada.