Global Edmonton was presented with a Canadian Screen Award on Tuesday for the station’s coverage of the one-year anniversary of the Fort McMurray wildfire.
“Fort McMurray: The Road Back,” Global’s 30-minute TV special which aired on May 3, 2017, took viewers back to the northern Alberta community to tell stories of residents rebuilding their homes and how their lives had been impacted by 2016’s devastating wildfire which firefighters now refer to as “The Beast.”
Watch below: As a way to mark one year since the Fort McMurray wildfire, Global News produced a special news presentation talking to those affected by the wildfire – from survivors to firefighters – about their challenges, how they’re marking the day and how they’re moving on.
“We’d been back to Fort McMurray a number of times since the wildfire, but the one-year anniversary was a good opportunity to dig into the stories of those working to rebuild their homes and lives,” Global Edmonton’s managing editor Kerry Powell said. “Our crews marveled at the community’s resilience and positivity in the face of such a devastating experience, and I think our news special really captured that spirit.”
“The stories of people rebuilding their lives after the devastating fire were truly remarkable,” Global Edmonton’s executive producer Deb Zinck said.
“This special captured the feeling that Fort McMurray truly is home for so many people, even for those who didn’t grown up there.”
The fire forced the evacuation of nearly 90,000 area residents and destroyed 1,595 buildings and structures. Miraculously, no deaths were directly linked to the blaze although a 15-year-old girl was killed in a crash. Emily Ryan was in an SUV that was escaping Fort McMurray on roads crowded with evacuees all trying to get away from the flames.
The Fort McMurray wildfire saw Canadians open their wallets to help with both the evacuation effort and the rebuild. Altogether, Canadians donated over $189 million to the Red Cross and Ottawa and the Alberta government matched those donations to the tune of $134 million.
At a speaking engagement in Lethbridge last month, former Wood Buffalo fire chief Darby Allen reflected on the catastrophe.
“I’ve been a firefighter since 1983,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.
“Residents were gone, store owners were gone… it was almost post apocalyptic.”
The fire significantly impacted oil production in Alberta’s oilsands north of Fort McMurray, in turn having a serious impact on the Canadian economy.
In July, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said rebuilding efforts in Fort McMurray were running ahead of expectations. At the time, reconstruction was already underway on one-third of the homes destroyed as a result of the disaster.
The Canadian Screen Award won by Global Edmonton on Tuesday is one of many awards handed out by The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television during Canadian Screen Week, which “celebrates excellence in film, English-language television, and digital media.”
-With files from The Canadian Press