Chief reacts to Fort McMurray report

June 12, 2017, Fort McMurray, Alta. – On Thursday a pair of government reports describe a chaotic, disorganized emergency response in Fort McMurray, Alta., during the devastating wildfire last spring.

“Obviously, in reflection, we can all agree [the response] wasn’t soon enough,” said Jody Butz, chief of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s municipal fire department, in a news conference from Fort McMurray. He was assistant deputy fire chief at the time of the May 2016 wildfire but was appointed chief in February, after the retirement of former chief Darby Allen.

The reviews conducted on behalf of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry illustrate the chaos and confusion around the emergency response during the first hours and days of the battle to save the northern Alberta city. Poor co-ordination and communication hindered battle with Fort McMurray wildfire, says report. The most scathing report shows neither the province or the city were fully prepared for the disaster, which destroyed hundreds of homes and forced residents to flee for their lives. A second government-commissioned report that looked at the evacuation and return to Fort McMurray was also released Thursday.

The report made 10 recommendations, including a call for a joint wildfire planning team made up of senior forestry staff and representatives of the oilsands, energy, forestry and utility industries. It also recommended the creation of a single incident command centre and urged the province to get better prepared earlier in the wildfire season.

A second report, by consultant KPMG, examined the overall emergency response effort. It was completed in May and also released Thursday. KPMG made 21 recommendations, including clarifying and documenting how to delegate authority in emergency situations.

The government said it has accepted the recommendations from both reports and is acting on them. CBC News reports. | READ MORE

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