May. 5th, 2016

clocketpatch: A small, innocent-looking red alarm clock, stuck forever at 10 to 7. (CLOCKETPATCH!)
Once again, I am NOWHERE NEAR these fires. Alberta is BIG. (My Mom keeps calling to ask if I'm safe, so... yes. I have several hundred kilometres of buffer zone), though some smoke did float into town today, and the sunsets are a spooky red.

Fort McMurray is a northern community (commonly called Fort Mac and referred to as a city, even though its not really). There is one road (hiway 63) going in and out. It is called the gateway to the north and used as a staging ground for the oil sands. It became a boom town over the last few years, but it was going through a really big slump this winter with the oil industry tanking. People have been losing their jobs left right and centre.

On May 3rd (Tuesday) the winds turned, bringing a MASSIVE wildfire right into downtown Fort Mac prompting the immediated evacuation of the ENTIRE community. Almost 90,000 people. Again, there is only one road in and out.

Some of the people did manage to evacuate south to other cities, but others were forced to flee north and shelter in work camps. There are now literally thousands of people stranded in these camps because the road out is on fire.

People are safe. No one has died, or even been injured. It's a miracle. But Fort Mac is still on fire, and the fire is REALLY BIG and getting bigger. It has not properly rained in this province all spring. There was a bit of drizzle/mist a few weeks ago and that's it. It has been hitting 30C pretty regularly since mid-April. It is windy. Basically, this fire is not actually stoppable at the moment.

Some people evacuated south had to be evacuated AGAIN after the fire changed course and blew at them. This is scary scary scary stuff.

People ARE being really beautiful in the midst of it though. Communities are offering beds and food and free gas. A group of Syrians who resettled in Calgary a few months ago have been fundraising to buy hygiene kits for the families stranded up north. People across the country are donating. But a lot is needed, because by the time this is over no one knows what will be left of this city and how many of these people are going to have homes to go back to.

The government is matching Red Cross donations. So if you are able/willing to donated, that is probably the best venue. If you cannot, please consider sharing that donation link.

Thank you for reading.

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