May 5, 2016 8:14 am

Fort McMurray wildfire: Albertans flock to Airbnb to offer free accommodation for evacuees

A Beacon Hill resident recorded the terrifying and tense moments as people tried to escape the blaze.


Alberta residents are turning to Airbnb to offer free accommodation to the tens of thousands of Fort McMurray residents who were forced to evacuate their homes as wildfire continues to ravage the area.

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Airbnb has activated its Disaster Response Tool in response to the ongoing crisis. Once activated, the tool automatically emails hosts in the affected area asking them to help and allows local residents to easily list their space for free. The company also waives all services fees for those affected by the disaster.

LIVE UPDATES: Fort McMurray wildfire

“Our thoughts are with all of Fort McMurray as they confront this devastating wildfire. To aid in the response, Airbnb has activated our Disaster Response Tool, encouraging our host community in the surrounding area of Edmonton to aid displaced residents with housing,” read a statement from the company.

By Thursday, dozens of new listings had popped up on the room-sharing service welcoming Fort McMurray evacuees.


“Free for Fort McMurray people,” read one listing. “We are waiting for you at any time.”

“This space is for Fort McMurray evacuees only,” read another.

Some listings even offer clean clothing and toys for kids.

According to an Airbnb spokesperson, the Disaster Response tool will be active until May 21 for all displaced residents, as well as volunteer relief workers who are part of the national Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD).

READ MORE: Albertans offering food, shelter to residents fleeing fire

Airbnb isn’t the only place residents are offering shelter. The hashtag #ymmhelps has popped up on Twitter too, letting fire evacuees know where there can find a place to stay. There is even a dedicated account (@YMMhelp) for those searching.

Hundreds of people from across the Prairies have opened their doors to displaced Fort McMurray residents. Aside from evacuation centres and Northlands (which is offering food, beverages and shelter), individual people and businesses have been taking people in. One woman, even offered up her gym sight unseen to anyone who needed help.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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