Thursday, May 05, 2016

The Roving Reporter : Alberta declares emergency as fires threaten Canada oil town

Thursday, May 5
FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta (AP) — Alberta declared a state of emergency Wednesday as crews frantically held back wind-whipped wildfires that have already torched 1,600 homes and other buildings in Canada's main oil sands city of Fort McMurray, forcing more than 80,000 residents to flee.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said fire had destroyed or damaged an estimated 1,600 structures. Flames are being kept from the downtown area thanks to the "herculean'" efforts of firefighters, said Scott Long of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency. No injuries or fire related fatalities have been reported.
The fire appeared near the airport late Wednesday where crews were on site. All commercial flights in and out of Fort McMurray have been suspended.

Unseasonably hot temperatures combined with dry conditions have transformed the boreal forest in much of Alberta into a tinder box. Fort McMurray is surrounded by wilderness in the heart of Canada's oil sands — the third largest reserves of oil in the world behind Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

Danielle Larivee, Alberta's minister of municipal affairs, said the fire is actively burning in residential areas. More than 250 firefighters are battling the blaze. An update from the Municipality of Wood Buffalo later in the evening indicated the fire was continuing to claim homes and had destroyed a new school.

Fatalities have been reported from a collision on a nearby highway but she was unaware if it was related to the evacuation or fire.
There were haunting images of scorched trucks, charred homes and telephone poles, burned out from the bottom up, hanging in the wires like little wooden crosses.

Some residents were evacuated for a second time late Wednesday when they were told to leave their emergency accommodations in the nearby hamlet of Anzac. Officials said changing weather patterns forced the move. There had been 2,500 evacuees registered at the local recreation center, although it was not known how many were still there when they were told to get on buses for Edmonton further to the south. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley flew up to survey the situation, and tweeted pictures of the fire from above. "The view from the air is heartbreaking," she wrote

The blaze effectively cut Fort McMurray in two late Tuesday, forcing about 10,000 north to the safety of oil sands work camps. The other 70,000 or so were sent streaming south in a bumper-to-bumper snake line of cars and trucks that stretched beyond the horizon down Highway 63. Some vehicles sat in ditches, the victims of engine trouble or a lack of gas.

Firefighters were working to protect critical infrastructure, including the only bridge across the Athabasca River and Highway 63, the only major route to the city in or out.
Notley called it the biggest evacuation in the history of the province. Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale called it one of the largest fire evacuations in Canadian history, if not the largest. "It's a community of 88,000 people that's been totally evacuated," Goodale said. "This is going to take a while to recover."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said while the full extent of the damage isn't yet known he called it "absolutely devastating" and said there's a loss on a scale that's hard to imagine. Trudeau said he's offered the province his government's full support. He encouraged Canadians to support friends and donate to the Red Cross. Trudeau noted climate change is contributing to an increase in extreme weather and fires but said it's difficult to establish a direct link.[ I do so think PM Trudeau is making a good point .]

Most oil sands projects are well north of the community, while the worst of the flames were on the city's south side. Allen said he's not aware of any threat to oil facilities but called the fire a "moving animal."
Notley said about 10,000 evacuees moved north where oil sands work camps were being pressed into service to house evacuees. The bulk of the evacuees fled south to Edmonton and elsewhere, and officials said they eventually would like to move everyone south.

Shell said it has shut down production at its Shell Albian Sands mining operations— about 60 miles north of the city — so they can focus on getting families out of the region. Suncor, the largest oil sands operator, said it is reducing production at its regional facility - about 15 miles north of the city. Many other companies evacuated non-essential staff.

Chelsie Klassen, a spokeswoman for The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said all large oil sands facilities have emergency crews and plans for forest fires, noting all personnel would be evacuated and facilities would be properly shut to minimize the damage. She noted 80 percent of the oil sands is located deep underground and can only be extracted through a drilling process. The remaining twenty percent is minable from the surface and predominantly located north of Fort McMurray. She said it can burn under certain circumstances, however oil sands would burn at a much slower pace considering its composition with sand.

Former National Hockey League player Doug Sulliman said he could see from his apartment balcony that both sides of the highway south were engulfed in flames and estimated hundreds of homes in the Beacon Hill suburb over the hill were destroyed. "You could hear the pop, pop, pop because of the propane tanks. The fire was just consuming these houses. It just destroyed the whole community," he said.

He said the highway later opened and it was bumper to bumper and said there were many cars on the side of the road because service stations were out of fuel. "There was a Shell gas station that blew up and a Denny's next door. There was nothing but the foundation and it was still smoldering in flames," he said.

Associated Press reporter Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.

Updates  as they become available  :

The Roving Reporter 


  1. My dear Lady ,
    People are volunteering from most everywhere , the national guard will have to come in to enforce the law to keep people from rioting .
    The Red Cross here is asking for donation of clothing , blankets and any non-perishable foods . All the casinos are asking the employees for donations of anything of use for our neighbors to the north , I first heard about the fire late Monday ,I wanted to post it sooner had an emergency , not me .
    Hope things are well with you .
    Hugs and love

  2. Everyone is being very kind. 80,000 people have no homes to go back to and the fire is spreading across the line into the next province Saskatchewan. They do not think they can get it under control. We are thousands of miles from there, thank goodness.
    We are getting clothing and bedding and personal products together to send.
    I hope you are all okay and the emergency is over.
    Love and hugs

  3. My dear Lady ,
    All is well with my family , just a few matters I has to take care off , I will tell you about it when and if I hear from you . I do not like to intrude when someone has a lot going on in their life .

    PS: My son said he will tell you how lawyers play the money card and laugh all the way to the bank .
    It is call expense accounts ,expensive lawyers has paralegals , investigators , secretaries on their payroll to do the leg work , lawyers pay the help , charge it to the estate . When the dust settles in a few years , the estate has to the lawyers expense account and pay their fee .
    He also say , take Cosby for instance , his accusers may not get a dime , the lawyers will come out loaded .

  4. Consider a hypothetical:
    Some impoverished twit, living in a cardboard box, who doesn't have two nickels to rub together decides she is the half sibling of Prince. She does not go to a fancy-shmancy high priced law firm. She goes to the one within walking distance of her box.
    In that neighborhood, he is a down at the heels, failed, law practitioner, who is lucky if he has phone service.
    He sees this as a high profile, chance of a lifetime, career making case....whether he wins or loses. If he loses, he will profit from the publicity. And if he fights a hard battle, he will become known as the poor, homeless underdogs' hero. His face will be all over the news media. So what if it costs him man hours and leg work and he has to do a few all nighters? Of course, if she wins, his career is made, his life is made and his retirement is taken care of. He can milk that poor woman's inheritance dry. It's a win/win.
    She says she can prove her claim. So they make a deal: If she loses, call it pro bono. But if she wins, he can name his price.

    Hey, I think I just created an outline for a movie

    1. Consider the impoverished twit was living in the real word , she would run by that poor lawyer like a hurricane getting to a high powered law firm .

      There are 7 twits now making a claim on Prince fortune , when it comes to money , I mean lots of money , people want the lawyers with the big price tags , they think they can get more from having a big name fool in their corner .
      As I stated before , lawyers will drag it out to get the most to line their own pockets .
      When you file your case , you have to state if it is pro bono not after you lose .
      I am not sure how your laws on different cases work there , in Prince home state , his heirs do not need a lawyer if they all agree , it would be divided equally , California , Nevada laws are different , Louisiana is a community state , if all heirs agree , fine .
      I think Prince sister wants everything for herself , before all is said and done , Michael Jackson family fighting will look like child's play . Everyone was aware that it was Michael's family .

      Yes , I think you just created an outline for a movie .

      By the way , have you heard of a person that is going after bundles of money hiring a down and out lawyer {laughing my butt off}
      I do so miss chewing the fat with you about different things .
      Take care beware of the coywolves .

  5. I loved your comeback...I always learn something new from you if I poke you.
    Surely a high powered law firm would not consider representing someone like that who could not pay their plethora of fees. I know they do pro bono cases out of compassion if they merit it. But this is just a grab for some poor shnook's estate. I don't think there is an amicable agreement among the claimants in the near future.
    By the way, both you and I know that my extreme analogy was a device to make my point. There probably is no such thing as a down and out lawyer.
    Love and hugs


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