Saturday, May 14, 2016

Fort McMurray Fire Still Growing

The Fort McMurray fire looked a lot more scary a week ago, with predictions then that it could double in size to 200,000 hectares over the weekend. With cool weather arriving, that didn’t come to pass. The fire advanced more slowly and firefighters were able to put out the fires in the city one by one, a process that after seven days is still not entirely complete. To look at Fort McMurray itself you would think the fire threat was dying down, but that isn’t really true. The fire has continued to grow and is now larger than the size officials worried about a week ago. It covered 241,000 hectares in yesterday’s official estimate. The fire has not yet reached Saskatchewan, but there is no stopping that either as soon as there is a day of hot weather — and of course, the entire summer season is still ahead. To make matters worse, more fires have popped up in other locations in the north. Fort McMurray is far from livable at this point with broken electrical wires and no water to drink, but the situation has calmed down enough that officials can start to address the infrastructure damage in a systematic way. With a more thorough look at the damage, there is little doubt that the fire is the largest insurance event in Canada’s history. The latest estimate pegs covered losses at $6 billion.