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Out Of Mind » SOLAR & PLANETARY ALERTS & INFO » EARTH CHANGES » Alberta wildfire in Canada continues

Alberta wildfire in Canada continues

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1 Alberta wildfire in Canada continues on Mon May 09, 2016 10:07 am

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Alberta wildfire in Canada continues




This 5 May 2016 video from Canada is called Fort McMurray wildfire: A timeline of a disaster.
By Roger Jordan in Canada:
Devastation from Alberta wildfire continues to spread
9 May 2016
The wildfire in the Fort McMurray-Wood-Buffalo region of northern Alberta, the center of Canada’s tar-sands oil production, continues to spread. Officials acknowledge that the blaze, which now encompasses over 1,600 square kilometres (615 miles), could go on for months unless stopped by rain.
Around 90,000 people, including the entire population of Fort McMurray, and the residents of the nearby communities of Anzac, Fort McKay First Nation, and Fort McMurray First Nation have been forced from their homes. A provincial state of emergency declared May 4 remains in force as fires continue to burn out of control in a number of places, including Slave Lake, High Level, and Clearwater County.
During Friday and Saturday, 25,000 people stranded north of Fort McMurray in oil-worker camps were evacuated to Edmonton and Calgary in convoys directed by the RCMP. Police also relocated small numbers of people still in the city who were either unable or unwilling to leave. No Fort McMurray evacuees were left north of the city by yesterday morning.
The only two fatalities reported thus far occurred in a traffic accident Wednesday, when an SUV and a trailer-truck collided on Highway 881 during the evacuation, which was ordered on short-notice and with almost no prior warning.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has said that it will be some time—weeks, not days—before residents can return to their homes. Although a turn in the weather yesterday brought rain, the fire continued to spread and reportedly was coming close to the Saskatchewan border, 90 kilometres to the east of Fort McMurray.
Fire conditions have stabilized in Fort McMurray itself, and Notley is set to visit today to begin assessing the damage. First responders began going door-to-door to confirm the state of properties yesterday. Although officials have yet to make a tally of damaged buildings, it is clear that large portions of the city have been destroyed. Officials noted that even buildings that have survived largely intact may have suffered extensive water-damage in the effort to save them. Maclean’s magazine, which was given special access to the city Friday, described the neighbourhoods of Beacon Hill and Abasand as lying in “ruins,” while Waterways, Fort McMurray’s oldest, was also severely damaged.
The catastrophe caused by the Fort McMurray fire is a product of the capitalist system’s rapacious drive for profit. Big Oil has extracted vast riches from the Fort McMurray area over the past four decades, at considerable cost to the environment. Yet hardly anything was done to guard against an entirely foreseeable disaster. As Fort McMurray’s population ballooned to over 100,000 before the 2014 oil price collapse, basic infrastructure and services remained wanting.
Although the full extent of the damage to the city remains unclear, there is a stark contrast between the city’s scorched residential streets and the fate of the oil companies’ tar-sands infrastructure.
At least 1,600 structures in Fort McMurray have been destroyed. The fire also burnt close to facilities operated by Suncor and other oil producers, but because they were surrounded by wide fire breaks and defended by specially-trained company firefighters, none has suffered significant damage. This fact calls into question the claims of senior fire management officials that no fire-break, regardless of its width, could have prevented the fire from laying waste large swathes of Fort McMurray.
Speaking on CTV’s Question Period yesterday, federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale confirmed that no damage had been suffered by oil facilities, adding, “They will be in a position to get back and running relatively quickly after the danger is past.”
As with other environmental disasters, like Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the devastation wrought by the wildfire has been exacerbated by the capitalist system’s subordination of the safety of the local population and environment to the accumulation of vast wealth. The extraction of tar sands oil by the major oil corporations has produced an environmental disaster in the region, including damaging fresh water supplies, creating pools of toxic waste, and destroying large areas of forest.
Scientists have repeatedly warned about the threat posed by wildfires due to a growing presence of humans in forested areas of the province (principally for oil extraction), the hotter and dryer weather produced by climate change, and the lack of preparedness. Yet few measures were taken to guard against the danger.
Dr. Mike Flannigan, a well-respected expert on wildfires from the University of Alberta, told CBC that the area burnt by wildfires in the country has doubled since 1970. He went on to emphasize the danger of large cities being developed in the boreal forest, and referred to the opinion of a colleague that a fire break of 2 kilometres should be created around cities by removing trees and brush.
He went on to outline the consequences of failing to establish fire breaks around urban areas. “Wildland firefighters are trained to fight wildfire, and municipal firefighters are trained to fight structural fires. Now, you have both types, creating a very dangerous hybrid fire and it’s entering an area with propane tanks, gas stations and other potentially explosive things.”
The frequency of fires in Canada has risen sharply over recent years. Last year, by early September, 6,700 fires had burnt around 4 million hectares. Currently, more than 80 fires are burning in Alberta and British Columbia, and twice as many fires have been reported this fire season as compared to the same point last year.
Successive Alberta provincial governments have cut resources for the management of wildfires and for precautionary measures to prevent their spread. One consequence of this is that from August 16 this year, no air-tanker coverage for the province of Alberta is currently in place, even though the fire season runs until October.
John Innes, Dean of Forestry at the University of British Columbia, gave voice to the frustration in the scientific community when he told Maclean’s, “Our research and modelling we have done over the past ten years has been pointing to this. I hate to say I told you so, but that’s what the scientific community has been saying for some time and trying to get politicians and others to pay attention to.”
The financial elite’s utter disregard for the residents of the affected region is exemplified by commentary in the corporate media that Fort McMurray should perhaps be rebuilt on a smaller scale, now that oil prices have collapsed.
Thousands of evacuees remain unsure if their homes are still standing or if they will have jobs to return to. As one woman told CBC, referring to her partner and herself, “We were six months without work. We just got back on our feet, so now it is a new start.”
Even prior to the wildfire, unemployment in Alberta was rising sharply and was higher than the Canadian average for the first time since the 1980s. Statistics Canada reported on Friday that total employment in Alberta dropped by 20,800 in April.
Many of the residents evacuated from Fort McMurray are among the most vulnerable sections of the population. Workers from outside Canada were brought in to fill low-wage jobs in Fort McMurray in catering, retail and childcare. Due to Canada’s reactionary “temporary foreign worker” laws, a significant number of these immigrants now face the prospect of being expelled from the country. The “temporary foreign worker” regulations stipulate that a worker is bound to his or her employer, meaning that if companies have been put out of business or cannot pay their “foreign workers,” they lose their entitlement to stay in the country.
Some of the Syrian refugees taken in by Canada also lived in the city. Abdul Almouazan and eight other family members were forced to flee Fort McMurray and are now being housed at the Al-Rashid Mosque in Edmonton along with 140 other evacuees, including refugees from Somalia.


Thanks to: https://dearkitty1.wordpress.com



  

2 Re: Alberta wildfire in Canada continues on Mon May 09, 2016 10:23 am

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3 Re: Alberta wildfire in Canada continues on Mon May 09, 2016 10:23 am

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4 Re: Alberta wildfire in Canada continues on Mon May 09, 2016 10:24 am

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5 Re: Alberta wildfire in Canada continues on Mon May 09, 2016 10:38 am

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6 Re: Alberta wildfire in Canada continues on Mon May 09, 2016 10:45 am

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A Ride Into the Ashes of Fort McMurray



By Rachel Browne
May 8, 2016 | 12:10 pm

"They've got 300 sandwiches? Ok, we're turning around now."
Daniel Haas hangs up his cell and slams the brakes of his pickup truck on the highway heading into Fort McMurray, Alberta. He cranks the wheel and bolts back south on Highway 63, toward an evacuation camp in the opposite direction, where oil and gas workers usually live. It's just been evacuated because of the threat of fire and now all the food is going to go to waste.
Haas' truck is already packed full of donated food he'll hand out to fire crews battling the aggressive wildfires chewing through a swath of northern Alberta, and police enforcing the mandatory evacuation of Fort Mac's 83,000 residents.
The city's supposed to be off limits for anyone else, with police standing guard at checkpoints, but VICE News secured a seat in a caravan taking in supplies, and got a rare, early look at the devastation.
"Those guys, they need fresh food. They're sick of the granola bars," says Haas of the worn and weary crews battling the blaze. "So we'll just cram it all in," he says, driving past a group of people camped on the side of the road offering free gas and rations, the only sign of activity in sight.
He parks in front of the camp's main office and jogs toward the kitchen. The 10-minute warning to get out passed long ago. The few remaining staff help pile buckets of sandwiches and desserts into the truck and backseat.
"Mind if I speed a lot now? Hold on," Haas says to the VICE News crew along for the adrenaline-pumping ride. "If it's too dangerous for you, you need to get out." He pushes the accelerator to 150 kilometers an hour.

It's the first time Haas, a truck driver from Fort McMurray, has been back to the city since it was evacuated earlier in the week. It's an unbearable tragedy for the hub of Canada's oil and gas sector that was already reeling from layoffs and economic hardship due to plummeting crude prices.
He and the rest of his colleagues have been dropping off supplies to evacuation camps and frontline workers in Fort McMurray. Earlier in the day they delivered a massive tanker truck filled with potable water.
"Getting out was my first priority, now we've got to help," says Haas. His girlfriend has found refuge in Edmonton and his four-year-old daughter is staying with family in Newfoundland, where he's from originally. "Fort Mac has given us so much over the years, and now it needs me. It needs us."
At this point, he has barely slept and doesn't remember the last time he ate. Large cans of Red Bull and packs of cigarettes sustain him.

Dozens of wildfires in Alberta, collectively dubbed the "beast," have grown to cover nearly more than 150,000 hectares this week — about three times the geographic footprint of Canada's largest city, Toronto — and are now pushing into neighboring Saskatchewan. In addition to boots on the ground, Alberta has 15 helicopters, 14 air tankers and 88 other pieces of equipment trying to control the flames. Saturday evening, officials reported that more than 2,000 vehicles were able to travel safely south through Fort McMurray as part of a massive military-led mobilization that escorted people who had been sent north in the chaos of the initial evacuation.
Haas, a hulking 26-year-old wearing a ball cap and a silver chain necklace, is anxious to see what's left of the place he's called home for eight years, and maybe even find his cat. "We couldn't find that troublemaker in time. But we got our dog."

He and his girlfriend left out four bowls of food just in case. "If they're still full, well, then we'll know."
Thick grey clouds of smoke begin to appear about 30 kilometers south of the city. "Fuck, it's even worse than I remember," he says.
He pulls up to the police checkpoint, just a few miles away from the city. "Okay, put the camera down. Now."

Only essential people are allowed in beyond this point. No media, no residents. Royal Canadian Mounted Police have been going door-to-door ordering those left behind to leave, and on Saturday, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley urged any stragglers left in the city to get out immediately.
"Please listen carefully to this," she said at a press conference. "If you aren't a police officer, a firefighter or otherwise have a first-responder role in the emergency, you should not be in Fort McMurray."
'It's getting real now. We're driving into hell.'
Haas is waved through after explaining he's there to deliver supplies. "It's getting real now," says Haas. "We're driving into hell."
His gas mask and helmet shift along on the dashboard. It's hard to keep count of the fresh fires burning along the way into town.

Around the city limits, the Super 8 motel has been reduced to rubble, along with at least 1,600 other structures. In the city, frames of singed trailer homes stand precariously among debris that's still smoking. Sidewalks and walkways lead to nothing.
Most buildings on the main street downtown remain untouched. But everything is quiet. The air is thick and there's a ghostly orange light coming from the sun through the plumes of smoke. As you move through town, smells of burning gas and rubber linger.
"The beauty's gone from Fort Mac right now, that's for sure," Haas says, absorbing this new reality. He lights a cigarette and slows down to offer a federal police officer some dinner.

Police cars patrol the city and keep watch over efforts to fight fires and bulldoze parts of the damaged forest. Haas rolls down his window to talk to another officer, who provides an update on the latest developments.
"We couldn't see the fires for the last couple of days, but now you can see them again. Fuck," the officer said. "Once the wind shifts, it changes the fire altogether. It's changing all the time."
Haas parks on top of a hill where crews operating Caterpillar equipment are rummaging through fallen trees. A few workers gather around the back of the truck and breathe a sigh of relief when they see the sustenance that has arrived. They say they haven't eaten much in the last two days as they fill boxes with ham sandwiches, muffins, and cases of water. They don't know when their next shift will end.

After a few more deliveries, Haas wants to check in on his girlfriend's father's house to see if it's still intact. Parts of the siding and ornamental features have melted, but it's still standing. Across the street, a whole block of townhouses has burned to the ground.The fences and structures that once provided privacy for these homes have disintegrated to expose torched patio furniture, barbecues, and undefinable debris. Bits of glass crunch while walking along what might have been a doorstep or welcome mat. It's a graveyard of empty foundation pits.
"I have no words," Haas remarks quietly, staring up the hill to survey the devastation.

He doesn't say much more as he drives toward the community of Gregoire, and pulls into his driveway. "Psspsspss. Here, puss!" Haas darts toward his backyard and up the wooden stairs to the patio.
"Okay, all the food is gone. Okay," he says breathlessly, looking down at the bowls. He holds out for a few more minutes and gets back into this car. "Maybe the SPCA got to him."
Back downtown on the way to the southern exit, the air is thicker than before."I don't want to get caught in the city again because of fire," he said. "So we have to hurry. I don't want to be here for long."

Still driving, he grabs the gas mask and puts it on with one hand. The head strap folds down the top of his right ear.
"You laugh, but the mask will keep me alive," he says, barely audible as his mouth is covered.
The ride has clearly shaken Haas, and forced him to reflect. He turns to his companions and starts talking about one of his favorite things to do around town: taking his boat out on the Gregoire River with his daughter. It's the first thing he says he'll do once he returns home. When that will be is a question that hangs in the air.
The view ahead begins to clear and the checkpoint appears. "I really don't know how long this is going to last," he says. "What we need is rain. Or something."

Follow Rachel Browne on Twitter: @rp_browne
Photos by Dan Olson/VICE News


Thanks to: https://news.vice.com



  

7 Re: Alberta wildfire in Canada continues on Mon May 09, 2016 3:10 pm

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Fort McMurray Fire Slowed Sunday by Light Rain — Despite Progress, Officials Expect Fire to Burn for Months
On Saturday, the Fort McMurray fire rapidly expanded — threatening the greenhouse gas emitting tar sands facilities north of town and making a race toward the Saskatchewan border. But by Sunday, cooler temperatures and very light rain in some areas (with accumulations of less than 1 mm), helped to stymie what, until that time, was an entirely uncontrollable blaze.
Fire’s Northward Expansion Halted Before Tar Sands Facilities Were Significantly Damaged
Fires ran directly to the boundaries of the Nexen tar sands facility. But heroic efforts by firefighters stopped the blaze there and prevented all but minor damage to structures and to large vessels containing volatile compounds. In total, the massive firefighting effort — now undertaken by more than 500 personnel — was able to check the northward advance of the flames on Saturday. By Sunday and Monday, a shift in the winds toward the west and northwest again drove the fires eastward.

(The Fort McMurray fire has grown to more than 16 times its original size on Tuesday. Northwest winds continue to push its expansion toward the Saskatchewan border. Cooler weather and very light rains helped slow the fire Sunday. But with no rain in the forecast until May 23rd and with more warm weather on the way, fire conditions may again worsen this week and on into the next. Image source: CBC News Live Updates.)
Current active large fires near Fort McMurray are about 16 miles to the south and west of town between the Athabasca River and Route 63, near the shores of lake Gregorie, and across the Clearwater River just to the north of the Fort McMurray airport. Though still somewhat threatening, overall fire activity in the area is the lowest since Tuesday of last week. Further to the east, large fires continue to burn toward Saskatchewan and, with winds expected to blow off and on out of the northwest over the coming 5 days, it’s likely that this massive blaze will expand outside the borders of Alberta. To this point, the fire edge is now less than 18 miles away from Saskatchewan and winds are still blowing at moderate strength out of the northwest.
The Damage Assessment Begins — No Word on When 90,000 Climate Change Refugees Can Go Home
Overall, officials are reporting that 161,000 hectares have burned so far (or about 620 square miles). Since Tuesday, the area consumed by the flames had grown explosively to roughly 16 times the fire’s original size. Cooler conditions this week should help to keep explosive growth in check. However, by Thursday and Friday, temperatures are again expected to warm — generating an increasing fire hazard for later this week. In addition, weather forecasts call for little to no chance of rain until May 23. So the region is expected to continue to experience extraordinarily dry conditions — conditions that helped contribute to the extreme fire hazard in the first place.
Sunday and Monday’s lull in the blaze has allowed officials to begin to take stock of the extreme and extensive damage around Fort McMurray. In addition to the 1,600 structures destroyed by the blaze, many, many buildings were reported damaged. Fort McMurray’s electrical system is completely knocked out — with emergency facilities running on generator power. Fort McMurray’s water supply — though continuing to flow from the city’s still intact water treatment plant — remains unsafe to drink. Officials will begin releasing photos of the destruction over the next two days and have warned of ‘dramatic images.’ As for the nearly 90,000 people made into climate change refugees by this blaze, there is still no word on when they will be able to return home. And considering such extensive damage and a still active and dangerous fire ranging the region — that answer could be weeks to months (find out how to help the fire victims here).
Impacts to Fort McMurray’s and Canada’s tar sands industry has been notably substantial. In total, more than 1 million barrels per day of oil production is now off line and is expected to remain so for about a month — even if the blaze does not re-emerge to threaten tar sands facilities. In addition, firefighting officials expect it to take months to get this massive fire completely under control. Even with the cooler conditions and very light rains Sunday and Monday, intense hotspots and very strong fire fronts are still expanding outward from the burn scar zone.
Widespread Large Fires in the Upper Latitude Regions of the Northern Hemisphere are Conditions Consistent with Human-Caused Climate Change

(Another very large fire — now 40,000 hectares in size — threatens the region near Winnipeg. As of Monday, more than 125 people were forced to evacuate due to the rapidly expanding blaze. Above we see this fire along with hotspots as seen by the NASA-MODIS satellite sensor. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)
Conditions consistent with human-forced climate change remain in effect for Fort McMurray and for most of Northwestern Canada. In total, nearly 150 fires now rage throughout this Arctic country and in Alberta alone an army of more than 1,500 firefighter are now battling 32 wildfires including the Fort McMurry blaze. In British Columbia, 79 strongly active wildfires have completely absorbed that region’s firefighting resources. And on the Ontario-Manitoba border near Winnipeg, a fire exploding to 40,000 hectares has forced more than 125 people to flee and sparked a massive firefighting effort as that blaze grew four times in size since Friday.
Around the world, wildfires are now erupting in northern regions and permafrost zones along the Mongolia-Russia border and in the area of Lake Baikal — which has suffered from a decadal drought and very severe warming. As May progresses into June, we can expect this fire zone to creep northward — eventually involving much of the permafrost zone itself. And, to this point, a powerful Arctic heatwave will bring with it increasing risks of fire to Alaska and the Northwest Territory as temperatures are expected to rise up to 30 degrees F above average (into the upper 60s and lower 70s F) there later this week.
Overall, human-forced climate change caused by fossil fuel burning greatly increases the frequency and intensity of wildfires by spreading heat and drought into regions where vegetation is unused to such conditions. In Arctic countries like Canada, new fuels come from thawing permafrost which forms a combustible peat-like layer and creates conditions where the ground itself can burn. Such heat and thaw has contributed to much larger wildfires which have become ten times more prevalent in the Arctic since 1950 and as the world has warmed by more than 1 C above 1880s averages. Continuing to burn fossil fuels will further intensify these already extreme conditions. One need not point out that this is the first time an entire Canadian city has been forced to evacuate due to wildfires. But with climate change starting to come into full force, such instances are far more likely to happen again and again — not just in Canada, but around the world.
Links:
CBC Live Fire Updates
Fort McMurray’s Fires and the Dramatic Images to Come
Oil Prices Tumble as Traders Reassess Fort McMurray Fire Impact
Fort McMurray Weather Forecast
Earth Nullschool
Warm North Pacific Winds to Usher in Brutal Arctic Heatwave this Week
Canadian Interagency Fire Center
Water Bombers Bring Relief to Expanding Fire Along Ontario-Manitoba Border
The Age of Alaskan Wildfires
LANCE-MODIS
How to Help Fort McMurray Fire Victims
Hat Tip to Andy in San Diego
Hat Tip to DT Lange
Hat Tip to Cate


Thanks to: https://robertscribbler.com



  

8 Re: Alberta wildfire in Canada continues on Mon May 09, 2016 6:34 pm

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9 Re: Alberta wildfire in Canada continues on Mon May 09, 2016 6:35 pm

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