Starting today, Red Deer Transit fares and admission to City recreation centres will be free for Fort McMurray and area evacuees. Lions Campground is also offering free camping for those who had to evacuate their homes as a result of the wildfires.
“We stand strong with our neighbours to the north and we’re at the ready to provide any and all support requested by the Provincial Operations Centre,” said City Manager Craig Curtis. “Closer to home, we’re hoping that we can bring some comfort to evacuees by offering some of our City services at no cost.”
Officials provided an update on the situation in Fort McMurray earlier today and conditions continue to be grim. As of this morning the fire had spread to 85,000 hectares which is equivalent to 850 square kilometres or roughly 210,000 acres. Weather conditions continue to be a factor as the area remains dry and winds continue to gust. Rain is not forecast until early next week at this point.
In the province there are currently 49 wildfires with seven considered out of control. More than 1,100 firefighters, 145 helicopters, 108 pieces of heavy equipment and 22 air tankers are fighting the fires.
Meanwhile, the following services are being offered to evacuated residents in Red Deer:
– Red Deer Transit – free fares on all transit routes for one month with proof of residency from evacuated areas shown to the transit operator.
– City recreation facilities – free admission for one month with proof of residency from evacuated areas shown at Customer Service. For a list of facilities, visit www.reddeer.ca/recfacilities.
Lions Campground, 4723 Riverside Dr. – free camping for one month with proof of residency from evacuated areas. For more information, visit www.reddeerlionscampground.com or call 403-342-8183.
“In addition to deploying personnel and resources to the affected areas, we continue to support the displaced residents from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, including those who may be staying with family and friends in Red Deer,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “Many Red Deerians have expressed a desire to contribute to the relief efforts, and this outpouring of support is a reflection of our city’s welcoming and compassionate nature.”
Here’s how Red Deerians can help as well:
– Donate money to a registered charity that is assisting in the relief efforts, such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army or the United Way.
– The Edmonton Emergency Relief Services is coordinating donation efforts in Edmonton and is specifically requesting donations of diapers, baby wipes, new toiletries such as soap and shampoo and new socks and underwear. They are also looking for volunteers. For more information, call 780-428-4422 or visit their facebook page.
– Many other local initiatives are being undertaken by businesses and organizations in Red Deer. Please contact these organizations directly for details.
Evacuees who land in Red Deer are encouraged to call the Red Cross registration line at 1-888-350-6070 for support.