Hot dry, and windy weather has returned to Fort McMurray. That’s prompted Premier Rachel Notley to report the ‘fire conditions are as bad now as they were on the first day.” However heavy smoke hangs over the nearly vacant city, and on an index that normally reads one to ten, the air quality index as of ten a.m. Monday read 38.
Those conditions are also delaying attempts to make it so Fort McMurray residents can return. “This is something that could potentially delay recovery work and a return to the community,” Notley said.
Time wise, they’re now giving back the gains that were made late last week, and on the weekend.
“The good news is, on this front the response personal up until this point had been making faster than anticipated progress on their reentry work with in the city,” Notley told the update at the provincial command centre.
Premier Notley said the province still isn’t able to give Fort McMurray residents any kind of re-entry date. Even bringing in more response personal and the vehicle retrieval efforts are being put on hold
Things escalated quickly said medical officer of health Dr. Karen Grimsrud. “Compared to last week, where the cooler weather really made a difference and the wind direction was different and winds were calmer, the culmination of the weather today and the wind conditions switched things around and resulted in the air quality deteriorating significantly.”
“It’s an irritant in your lungs. So it’s going to cause you significant breathing problems, with out a respirator, you’re taking in that air. Even if you don’t have any underlying diseases, it’s still going to make a difference in your ability to breathe.”
The province isn’t able to determine yet when things will be safe. Alberta Wildfire’s Chad Morrison said there’s still a lot to do both in the city and out. “We continue to make very good progress on hot spots around the community but let me be clear, there are thousands of them around still that fire fighters still have to work and clean up. With the extreme fire behavior ongoing around the outside flanks it’s still not safe for folks to be back there.”
Notley reported that electricity is back to most buildings, and natural gas to about fifty percent of them.
A four phase plan has been established for getting the hospital up and running. Notley said it’s not clear yet when they can open the hospital, and how many services they can safely provide before residents can return.
An answer on the re-entry for residents won’t come until late this week at the earliest.
provincial update can be viewed by clicking here