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AB Wildfires 2016: Def Min Asked for Help

The Bread Guy

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This, from The Canadian Press:
... Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, in a conference call from Germany early today, confirmed a formal request for assistance has been received from the Alberta government.

What form that will take — at least on the military side — is still being determined and National Defence is expecting to hear soon from the province about the kind of equipment and personnel required.

The office of Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, the federal focal point for assistance, is expected to provide more details later today ...
More news on the fire situation in northern Alberta here (Google News), here (Twitter) and here (Alberta gov't).

Good luck all involved & stay safe, everyone  :salute:
The word has already gone out in Esquimalt to prepare to provide assistance.
A couple of updates, from ipolitics.ca ...
As the wildfire evacuation order in Fort McMurray enters its second day, the main form of support offered by the military will likely be air support — but the commander in charge of Joint Task Force West says the situation is “dynamic.”

“That will all depend on the needs so I can’t speculate at this time,” said Brig.-Gen. Wayne Eyre when asked whether the 15 or so military personnel currently deployed to help in Alberta could be joined by others. “The numbers are very much in flux.”

Highway 63, the only road in and out of Fort McMurray, has been closed intermittently south of the city toward Edmonton. When that happens, evacuees are being told to head north to the oilsands camps; those people will need to be moved as soon as possible.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley asked for help with evacuating those people and transporting fire equipment last night.

Two Griffon helicopters are on the ground in Fort McMurray now, Eyre said. There is one Hercules transport plane set to depart from the Canadian Forces base in Cold Lake as needed; several others on standby at the base in Trenton.

The Griffons are being pulled in from 408 Squadron in Edmonton and 4 Wing Cold Lake, he said.

It’s not clear at this point whether other resources could be sent to assist, such as military members or reservists.

Alberta is currently at Level 4 emergency status, meaning it is activating its emergency assistance agreements with other provinces to allow them to send firefighters and other aid.

When asked whether the military could assist with coordinating the transport of those firefighters, Eyre said that request has not yet been made but officials will evaluate the situation as it evolves.

“We are the force of last resort,” Eyre said. “That’s quite possible if the civilian capacity doesn’t exist.” ...
... and Global News:
... In a conference call early Wednesday afternoon, Brig.-Gen. Wayne Eyre, Commander of Joint Task Force (West), confirmed that several military resources were on-standby or already deployed. Eyre is the top commander in charge of the military response.

Hercules aircraft are waiting on standby at Canadian Forces Base Trenton to deploy to the region if help is needed to evacuate people, transport equipment or transport firefighters, he said. Another Hercules aircraft has been “pre-positioned” even closer to Fort McMurray in Cold Lake, Alberta.

Specifically, said Eyre, Alberta’s government has asked for:

    Assistance for municipal and provincial authorities who are helping people in distress
    Assistance in evacuation of residents in isolated areas affected by the fire
    Assistance in the transportation of equipment and personnel to isolated areas to fight the fire

A number of CH-146 Griffon helicopters have also been sent to Fort McMurray, the general confirmed, and they landed on Wednesday morning ...
Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth shares a message ...
“Prince Philip and I were shocked and saddened by the news of the wildfires that are causing such devastation to Fort McMurray.  Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been affected, and we send our heartfelt thanks to the firefighters and the other emergency workers.”
May 04, 2016

Ontario sending firefighters to help Fort McMurray

"More than 80,000 people have had to flee their homes."

Watching the news, it reminds me of Mississauga in 1979 when more than 200,000 people were evacuated.
Here in Quebec, four CL-415 water bomber left early this morning to render assistance, together with a charter plane full of our Forest fire specialists.

But that is not the real problem. A large forest fire like that will eventually be brought under control or die off on its own. The real problem is how do you re-organize the life of 70,000+ people. Mariomike mentions Mississauga, but that was an "evacuate-then-move-back-home" phenomena. Fort Mac is more akin to a refugee problem ( Trudeau jr. wanted to show you can deal with 50,000 refugees in a month: Here is his big chance to shine) that will take years to re-build and efface the effect on the community.

Strength and courage to all over there. We certainly think of you.

And everyone, stay safe.
Oldgateboatdriver said:
Mariomike mentions Mississauga, but that was an "evacuate-then-move-back-home" phenomena.

Good point, OGBD.  :)

It ran off the track, 11-79
While the immigrants slept, there wasn't much time
The mayor came calling and got 'em outta bed
They packed up their families and headed upwind
A poison cloud, a flaming sky, 200,000 people and no one died
And all before the pocket dial, yeah!

Edit to add,

From the song Trainwreck 1979 by Canadian band Death From Above 1979.
On some Herc action, from Belleville media:
A C-130J Hercules aircraft departed from 8 Wing/Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Trenton just after noon on Wednesday to assist in whatever way might be required at Fort McMurray in the wake of the massive fire which hit that community.

The initial response personnel from 8 Wing was small, including only the aircraft crew, three Mobile Air Movements Sections (MAMS) personnel and an image technician.

According to 8 Wing Commander Colonel (Col.) Colin Keiver, 8 Wing, under the direction of Major-General D.L.R. Wheeler in Winnipeg, 8 Wing has been tasked to move the aircraft and personnel to Cold Lake to pre-position them as close to Fort McMurray as possible if and when they are required so that the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) assets are in place and ready to go to work.

“We’ve not been tasked with anything else,” Col. Keiver stated. “What we’ve done at the Wing is we’ve put a C-17 and an Airbus crew and airplanes on standby and there are a bunch of people here at 2 Air Movements who are also on standby to go as well. This operation will be about moving things, either into Fort McMurray or out of Fort McMurray. It’s these airplanes that will do that and these people – like the Air Movements technicians – that will help get those things on and off the airplanes. That’s what we’re posturing ourselves to do right now.”

Beyond those instructions, Col. Keiver and the personnel at 8 Wing know little except they want to be ready to respond to any eventuality ...
Loachman said:
And she didn't prattle on about Star Wars Day first, either, like a certain selfieholic.

Unlike him, I doubt she's a Star Wars fan.

International Star Wars day is a thing.
The news doesnt sound good with regard to the fire.Out of control and scarce resources to fight it.I hope the US offers help in the form of aerial tankers and personnel.
My understanding is that this situation is beyond aerial tankers.

Thanks for the sentiment, however.
MacLeans has a good info piece on just how big an area the devastation covers. And overlays that put it into perspective for other major Canadian and international cities.

Essentially they will have to let it burn itself out ? What a shame.
It's telling just how resource dependent the Canadian economy is when economists are projecting a decline in GDP because of the situation. Shutting down the oil sands and the reduced output are going to hurt. And the drop in oil prices over the past year makes this situation even harder to carry through.

The only saving grace is that the reduction in oil sands work force that has occurred since the drop in oil prices may have made the evacuations worse if the full production and expansion forces were in the region.

Fort McMurray fire has economists cutting growth forecasts for Canada
'If we assume those shutdowns last for 2 weeks, they would subtract 0.5% from May GDP' — Royal Bank


Economists trying to gauge the impact of the Fort McMurray wildfire and its disruption of oilsands production are already cutting their outlooks for the Canadian economy.

Current estimates are that anywhere from 900,000 to one million barrels of oilsands production have been suspended due to the fire.

"The situation remains fluid, and uncertainty remains about how long production disruptions will persist," economists at Royal Bank of Canada said in an economic comment released Friday. "However, if we assume those shutdowns last for two weeks, they would subtract 0.5 per cent from May GDP."

RBC said it expects much of the decline in oilsands production will be reversed in the months to come.

"Although the loss of oil production is likely to be the largest factor impacting monthly GDP data, the absence of evacuated residents will also limit retail sales and hours worked outside of the oil and gas production sector," the bank said.

Factoring in the economic hit from the fire, coupled with a subsequent recovery, has led RBC to cut its forecast for second-quarter annualized growth to 0.5 per cent. Previously, the bank was expecting Canada's economy to grow at a 1.5 per cent pace in the April-to-June quarter.

Bigger rebound

RBC said it expects the economy to bounce back after that, however, to a pace of three per cent growth in the third quarter. That's up from two per cent currently.

But the longer the shutdown lasts, the worse the second quarter numbers will be, and the bigger the rebound could be in July through September.

Meanwhile, in the wake of Friday's national employment report, economists at BMO Financial cut their own second-quarter GDP estimate to zero from 1.5 per cent amid the fallout from the Fort McMurray wildfires.

"This estimate should be viewed only as a placeholder, until we receive further information on the full impact of the disaster," BMO cautioned, however.

Douglas Porter, chief economist at BMO, said he doesn't think the fire will lead the Bank of Canada to ease interest rates to provide support for the economy.

"We continue to believe that the bank will stay on hold over the next year, although this week's series of bad news put any chance of rate hikes even further into the already far-off distance," Porter said.

Diverting resources

Charles St-Arnaud, a foreign exchange strategist at Nomura in London, said in a research note published Thursday that a reduction of about 500,000 barrels of production per day, roughly 20 per cent of overall output, would shave about 0.12 percentage points off growth for each week of stoppage.

"Most of the impact will be in the medium term, as Fort McMurray will need to be rebuilt, as it is the base for most of the oil sands operations in Alberta," said St-Arnaud.

"The reconstruction efforts mean that resources in the construction sector in the region will likely be diverted toward that task rather than towards investment in the oil industry which could delay some projects and slow further the expansion in oil production."
Oldgateboatdriver said:
The real problem is how do you re-organize the life of 70,000+ people. Mariomike mentions Mississauga, but that was an "evacuate-then-move-back-home" phenomena. Fort Mac is more akin to a refugee problem ( Trudeau jr. wanted to show you can deal with 50,000 refugees in a month: Here is his big chance to shine) that will take years to re-build and efface the effect on the community.

Happy to say, despite what the media tells us, it is not as bad as it seems.

I say this as someone who spent a quarter of my life there, who visits once per year, and my parents are both currently homeless due to the situation. Luckily we have family in Edmonton, but they spent a few nights at the camps in Syncrude (where my dad works) before being flown to Edmonton. I have a lot of friends there, who I have known since I was 12, some who have lost everything. But that is the exception rather than the rule.

One thing I read, from someone who lived in Slave Lake when it was run over by a forest fire, giving advice to people from Fort McMurray, was "it's not nearly as bad as the media is telling you it is." Very anxious to see the status of my parent's house that my dad built with his bare hands, I found this today, that does a very good job of putting it into perspective.


No doubt this is catastrophic. However, as bad as it is, Fort McMurray will be a bustling boom town once again sooner than we realize.
I have to agree with Ballz.  All I see in these "economist's" analysis is a great deal of fear mongering, and preaching doom and gloom, where there really isn't.

So far, I have heard no reports of major Oil Production infrastructure being damaged; only shut down for safety. 

The "Reconstruction" of Fort Mac will in itself create a sort of a boom. 

Although the population is displaced, the workforce will still be able to return to the various camps once the area is deemed safe.
Trudeau was looking for shovel-ready projects to stimulate the economy.  Here is one that crosses all political boundaries and which might, just might undo some of the wrongs done to Alberta by his father and others of the liberal party and it isn't nearly as politically risky as supporting a pipeline.  I'd say a win-win just by saying he'll match the Albertan government dollar for dollar in re-construction projects.
The AB government has done a good job with information IMO.

YZT580 said:
... I'd say a win-win just by saying he'll match the Albertan government dollar for dollar in re-construction projects.
And I betcha a loonie that just like Harper could do no right among his particular haters, you'd still get haters hating.