Donate money online:
- The Red Cross has started an emergency appeal for help. To donate $5 by phone, text REDCROSS to 30333. Both the federal and provincial governments will match donations to the Red Cross.
- The Wood Buffalo Food Bank is accepting donations through PayPal on its website.
- The Salvation Army is also collecting financial donations online.
Raging wildfires force more than 80,000 to flee the oilsands city of Fort McMurray. About 1,600 buildings, most of them homes, were hit by the fire. Feds pledge all possible assistance.
FORT MCMURRAY, ALTA.—Alberta declared a state of emergency as it took sad stock Wednesday of the devastation from wildfires that torched entire neighbourhoods and forced more than 80,000 to flee the oilsands city of Fort McMurray. Fire crews, backed by helicopters and air tankers, braced for renewed incursions from waves of flame menacing the city.
“The situation in Fort McMurray is not stable. It is unstable,” Scott Long of Alberta Emergency Management told reporters in a Wednesday afternoon briefing.
“The downtown core is being held through some Herculean efforts of the structural firefighters in the area.”
Premier Rachel Notley said about 1,600 buildings, most of them homes, were hit by the fire that leapt over crews late Tuesday afternoon and raced into the city.
“There’s been fairly significant destruction of residences,” said Notley.
She and her officials admitted the outlook remained grim as the fire, which obliterated neighbourhoods to the south and west, moved north.
“We saw areas where there was a tremendous amount of smoke,” she said later at a relief centre for evacuees in Anzac. “We were way up in a helicopter and the plumes of smoke were higher than we were.”
Notley said the state of emergency will also ensure that the federal government pays part of the costs of the wildfire.
The blazes effectively cut Fort McMurray in two late Tuesday, forcing about 10,000 north to the safety of oilsands work camps.
The other 70,000 were sent streaming south in a bumper-to-bumper snake line of cars and trucks that stretched beyond the horizon down Highway 63. Some vehicles sat in ditches, the victims of engine trouble or a lack of gas.
The situation took a tragic twist Wednesday when an SUV collided head on with a tractor-trailer on another southern escape road, Highway 881, killing two and shutting down the road in both directions.
The wildfire was still listed out of control as it curled around the city, 435 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.
By mid-day Wednesday, the looming flames forced officials to abandon the evacuation command centre near the airport.
Neighbourhoods most affected are Waterways, where 90 per cent of the homes have been lost; Beacon Hill, where 70 per cent of the homes have been lost, and Abasand where half the homes have been lost. More than 30 homes have been lost in Wood Buffalo.
Courtesy of the Star
Shortly before 10 p.m., the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo said shifting weather patterns prompted a mandatory evacuation order of Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates and Fort McMurray First Nation.
They said buses were being brought in to help and that Mounties were going door-to-door to make sure everyone leaves.
The evacuation is scheduled for 11 p.m with buses departing at midnight.
Displaced Fort McMurray residents had taken refuge at the Anzac Recreation Centre, about 50 kilometres south of Fort McMurray.
Ever wonder what you might do if you stumbled upon a bag containing $50,000?
For TTC operator Daniel Clavette, who faced such a dilemma last Monday evening, the answer was simple — “do the right thing” and “return the money to its rightful owner.”
The 48-year-old was driving his bus in Scarborough, heading up Bellamy Rd. — just north of Eglinton Ave. E. — when one of his passengers handed him a knapsack that another rider had left behind.
When he pulled into the Scarborough Town Centre half hour later, he opened the bag to see if it contained anything that might help identify its owner.
“I ended up finding envelopes full of money,” Clavette recalled Friday, as Toronto Police presented him with a certificate commending him for his “honesty” and “integrity.”
He explained there were five TD Bank envelopes each stuffed with $10,000 in $100 bills.
“My initial reaction was like, ‘Wow!’” Clavette said. “I was stunned.”
He alerted his supervisor who notified police at 41 Division.
Not for second was he tempted to keep the cash, nor did he dream about how he might spend such a large sum.
Clavette said he also found a man’s passport and paperwork from a funeral home in the backpack and he figured if the owner had just lost a loved one, he was “going to need the money.”
Supt. John Tanouye said the bag’s frantic owner walked into 41 Division “distraught and upset” soon after accidentally leaving $50,000 inherited from his mom’s death on the bus.
“We got the phone call (from the TTC) while he was standing there that Daniel had turned in the money,” he said, adding the man was “elated.”
“He’s such great role model, a Good Samaritan,” Tanouye said of the TTC driver.
TTC spokesman Brad Ross lauded Clavette for his “professionalism.”
The married father of two daughters, 18 and 21, was a contract driver with Pizza Pizza for 13 years and had no benefits prior to getting hired by the TTC nine years ago.
Clavette said he’s so grateful that he would never do anything that would jeopardize his job or cast a negative light on the TTC.
He also downplayed his decision to return the money.
“I was just doing my job,” Clavette said humbly. “That’s what the TTC trains us to do, to be honest.”
Courtesy of Toronto Sun