Back in the beginning of May, a massive wildfire raged throughout Fort McMurray, Alberta destroying thousands of homes and forcing an evacuation of the city’s residents. It was the largest wildfire evacuation in our province’s history. Now, as we approach the end of June, we’re happy to report that the Government of Alberta has already begun the re-entry process so that residents can return to their homes.
We’re thankful that the wildfires have been deemed to no longer be a threat to those who call Fort McMurray their home. As you can imagine, even with the fires no longer burning, there was a great cause for concern about poor air quality last month. As reported by Phys.org, the air quality around the entire Fort McMurray area remained very poor right up until the end of May. As a result, it wasn’t quite ready to be re-inhabited.
“The Alberta Health Services has issued warnings for the entire area with Health Quality Index of 10+ (very high risk of triggering health issues) reported in the area,” revealed the website on May 26th, “The Alberta Health Services has issued an air-quality advisory for the Fort McMurray area, as well as a precautionary air-quality advisory for Edmonton and communities in the North Zone due to wildfires.”
At the time, the wildfires were still raging out of control, covering an area estimated at 522,892 hectares or 2019 square miles. This included 2496 hectares, which is nearly 10 square miles, in Saskatchewan. “Fort McMurray, Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates, Fort McMurray First Nation and Fort McKay First Nation remain under a mandatory evacuation order,” reported Phys.org. That order, however, has since been lifted.
As Stephanie Jellett of FortMcMurrayToday.com reported last week, the air quality advisory that had been in place in Fort McMurray since May 2nd was lifted as the community was no longer being impacted by the smoke from the wildfires. “Alberta Health Services (AHS) lifted the advisory on June 14 stating that there’s no risk to the public,” she writes.
As of the afternoon of June 15th, the Air Quality Health Index was at a two, compared to a high of 10. “Last month, the wildfires created an AQHI rating as high as 51,” informs Jellett. Not only is the fire no longer out of control, but there is no indication that the air quality will worsen in the future. Even the temperatures have dropped. As a result, Fort McMurray is inhabitable again.
Jellett does note, however, that “although the Fort McMurray advisory was lifted, Kirsten Goruk, North Zone senior communications advisor with AHS said the precautionary air advisory for the entire north zone, which was issued on May 5, is still in effect.” She goes on to reveal that AHS no longer recommends delaying children who are either younger than seven years-old or have acute medical conditions to return to their Fort McMurray homes.
On behalf of the entire DF Technical Consulting Services Ltd. team, we would like to offer our best wishes to everyone who has been affected by the Fort McMurray wildfires. If you would like to donate to the Alberta Fires Appeal through the Canadian Red Cross, you can do so HERE. All donations will be matched by the Government of Canada.
For information about our Air Quality Services, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.