Fort McMurray wildfire: Alberta reviewing its response to disaster

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry is reviewing its response to the wildfire that burned through parts of Wood Buffalo and the city of Fort McMurray in early May.

The 590,000-hectare blaze – referred to as the Horse River Wildfire – forced the evacuation of roughly 80,000 people in Fort McMurray on May 3.

The review will look at the department’s wildfire preparation and readiness up to May 31, 2016 and the steps taken to respond to the massive fire.

The province is looking for a contractor to conduct the review. A request for proposals has been issued with the final report due by the end of the year.

“This fire has altered the lives of thousands of people who are now faced with the difficult task of rebuilding their lives,” Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier said.

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“Reviews like this are a normal part of our business when faced with extreme wildfire conditions or an extreme wildfire event. We are constantly reviewing how we fight wildfire in an effort to become safer and more efficient.”

On Tuesday evening, citizens packed the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s council chambers for a heated meeting. Many residents took the opportunity to address councillors and complain about the wildfire evacuation process as well as recovery efforts.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray residents pack Wood Buffalo council chambers at heated meeting 

The cause of the blaze – which is believed to be the result of human activity – will not be the subject of the review.

READ MORE: RCMP say Fort McMurray wildfire likely ‘result of human activity,’ investigate if blaze was criminal 

The Horse River Wildfire started on May 1 southwest of Fort McMurray and has since become the most damaging wildfire in Alberta’s history.

On Monday, for the first time since it began, the wildfire was classified as “being held.”

READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire classified as ‘being held’ 

In 2011, a review began into the Slave Lake wildfire response.

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Twenty-one recommendations were made in that review which have all been implemented or are continuing to be implemented.