As Premier Rachel Notley and members of the media toured parts of Fort McMurray Monday afternoon, emergency officials in Calgary had a message for wildfire evacuees: if you have a place to stay, don’t move.
“I would strongly encourage that if you’re an evacuee and you have a place to stay, stay there,” Chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) Tom Sampson said. “You will not find it better by moving from Edmonton to Calgary.”
“If you think you’re coming because we have rooms here, we are quickly running out of those rooms.”
Sampson said about 2,089 evacuees are being housed in four reception centres in Calgary, and that Ambrose University College and Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) were full. He said between the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University campuses there was room for about 200 more people, but once they’re full, the city will move to group lodging.
“It’ll be a large gymnasium-type situation where there’s possibly 100 beds in one area,” he said. “That’s not an ideal situation.”
Fort McMurray evacuees who registered with the Canadian Red Cross must confirm their registration by 11:59 p.m. Monday in order for it to be validated.
Sampson said more donations are not needed at reception centres at this time, and directed those wishing to donate to the Red Cross at 1-800-418-1111.
City of Calgary Fire Chief Steve Dongworth said the first crew of firefighters sent to Fort McMurray was brought home Saturday night and replaced with a crew of 36. He said they were working to protect critical infrastructure and fighting structural fires.
“They’ve been very busy–close to 20 hours a day working,” Dongworth said.
The chief added his crew is safe with no injuries, but that the smoke was hard on everyone.
“I could literally feel my voice was different because of the smoke,” he said, referring to his trip to Fort McMurray.
While a province-wide fire ban is in effect, there was no fire ban in Calgary as of Monday afternoon. Dongworth said the situation was being monitored.
With files from Global’s Kim Smith