On Sunday May 1, a wildfire of approximately 500 hectares in size began burning southwest of the city of Fort McMurray, Alberta. Due to conditions such as hot and dry weather, high winds and low humidity, the wildfire began burning out of control and doubled in size to 1,285 hectares by 5:00pm on Monday, and doubled again three hours later. By Tuesday, shifting winds caused the fire to jump the river into the city of Fort McMurray and the 80,000 residents of the city were ordered to evacuate.

By Friday, the fire had grown to 101,000 hectares in size. More than 1,600 structures have been confirmed lost. Residents initially evacuated both north and south of Fort McMurray, with the southern evacuees staying in centres in Edmonton, hotels, campgrounds or with loved ones. The northern evacuees stayed in work camps, however, they have now been brought south of city.

As of early this week, officials say the wildfire has grown to approximately 204,000 hectares in size. Weather conditions are becoming relatively more favourable, as winds are blowing the fire to the east and away from Fort McMurray and cooler temperatures combined with a chance of precipitation will assist with firefighting efforts.

ShelterBox is monitoring the fire closely and we have offered our aid to the Alberta government, if needed. In any disaster situation, the government and local organizations are the primary responders. Once the fire is out, and there is a better understanding of the extent of the damage, we will be in a better position to know if the ShelterBox solution is what is needed. Should the government be overwhelmed and require international assistance, ShelterBox is standing by ready to help the people of Fort McMurray affected by these devastating wildfires.

We will continue posting updates on the Fort McMurray wildfire on Facebook and Twitter, as well as sending updates to our newsletter subscribers. Consider signing up to receive ShelterBox Canada monthly updates.

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(Video courtesy of The Globe and Mail)

An overlay of the size of the wildifre on Friday May 6, compared to the GTA. (Image courtesy of the Toronto Star and Google Earth)

Huge plumes of smoke as wildfires burn near Fort McMurray, Alberta. (Darryl Dyck/Bloomberg)