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Alberta to complete review into Fort McMurray wildfire response by summer

The wildfire burning near Fort McMurray, Alta. May 1, 2016.
The wildfire burning near Fort McMurray, Alta. May 1, 2016. Courtesy: Christopher McRae

A review into how the Alberta government responded to the Fort McMurray wildfire is expected to be complete by next summer.

May’s fierce and unpredictable fire forced nearly 90,000 people out of the northeastern Alberta city for a month and destroyed 10 per cent of its structures.

“In May, the people of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo were forced to leave their homes behind in the biggest evacuation in Alberta history,” Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee said.

READ MORE: All of Fort McMurray evacuated as wildfire intensifies 

The province is looking for a contractor to conduct an independent review into what went well — and what didn’t — during the disaster. A request for proposals has been issued, the government said.

WATCH: Super 8 Hotel in Fort McMurray goes up in flames during live report 

The review will look at support the province provided to the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, the evacuation of communities and emergency social services for evacuees.

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“We thank the Alberta government for taking an open and responsible approach in its review of the actions taken in response to the biggest crisis in our region’s history,” Fort McMurray Mayor Melissa Blake said.

“We look forward to contributing to this important process that will play a role in making our community even stronger for our children.”

READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire and the smoke-trapping inversion which made the fire look calm 

The May wildfire marks the third major disaster in Alberta in the last five years.

The province undertook similar reviews after the 2011 Slave Lake wildfire and the 2013 floods in southern Alberta.

READ MORE: Report on Slave Lake wildfire calls for more advisories and initial-response crews 

A separate review is being done by the province’s Agriculture and Forestry Department into wildfire preparation, readiness and response.

“In the face of the fire’s unprecedented extreme behaviour, our first responders and emergency teams performed with incredible courage and skill, successfully evacuating nearly 90,000 people in just a few hours and saving the vast majority of homes and businesses,” Larivee said.

“It is tremendously important that there is an independent review of the response to this disaster so that the lessons learned will ensure our emergency response system can be even stronger in the future.”

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READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire: a closer look at the community under fire threat

The province hires a third party to conduct an independent review of the emergency response after every major disaster.

With files from Emily Mertz, Global News