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Fire in Canada

Wednesday, 04 May 2016

Type of Event:
Fire
Location of Event:
Alberta, Canada
Date of Charter Activation:
4 May 2016
Time of Charter Activation:
01:14:00
Time zone of Charter Activation:
UTC+05:00
Charter Requestor:
GOC Public Safety Canada
Project Management:
Canadian Space Agency (CSA)

Description of the event

A wildfire in Alberta, Canada, has forced the evacuation of an entire city.

All residents of Fort McMurray, 90,000 people, were given mandatory evacuation orders on 3 May as the fire raged out control in the city.

The fire began on 1 May, and while the exact cause of the fire is unknown, high temperatures and strong winds, pushed it north-east toward Fort McMurray, prompting the evacuation order.

The sheer number of evacuees has quickly filled emergency shelters and camps nearby, forcing some residents to spread farther out to find a refuge.

No fatalities or injuries have been reported as a result of the fire, but the entire neighbourhood of Beacon Hill has been consumed by the fire and a gas station reportedly exploded. While officials made efforts to empty out gas stations during the evacuation, there are concerns that the fires could ignite some fuel left behind.

2,400 buildings, out of 25,000 in the city, have been destroyed, and thanks to the efforts of firefighters 90% of the city has been saved. It is estimated that it could take weeks to make the city safe for people to return to.

Over 500 firefighters, a dozen helicopters and nine air tankers have been working to fight the flames but on 3 May the dry conditions, wind and temperatures of 30°C meant the fire spread quickly and overwhelmed those fighting it. Weather conditions took a more favourable turn on 8 May, with some light rain and a shift in wind, reducing the speed the fire could spread. Nevertheless, the fire covered an area of 1,610 square kilometres as of 8 May.

Fort McMurray damage assessment map

Source: SPOT-7
Acquired: 06/05/2016

Copyright: Airbus Defence and Space 2016, all rights reserved
Map produced by the Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation, Natural Resources Canada

Monitoring the wildfire at Fort McMurray

Source: Resurs-P
Acquired: 06/05/2016

Copyright: ROSCOSMOS 2016 - All rights reserved
Map produced by ROSCOSMOS