ALBERTA – Wildfires fanned by winds up to 75 km/h continued out of control for the third day at Fort McMurray, home to this country’s oil sands producers. The fire has now consumed an area the size of Calgary – 85 km2. More than 1,600 homes have been destroyed. Many of those forced out of their homes earlier this week are being evacuated for a second time. And the end of the catastrophe is not in sight.
Such a disaster brings Canadians, both individually and as corporations, together offering many kinds of help. Besides a regular monthly donation to the Canadian Red Cross, this author sent the organization another $75 this morning. I urge all readers to visit www.RedCross.ca and give what you can. The federal government will match donations to the Red Cross’s Alberta Fire Appeal.
Larger donations, too, are coming from the mining industry. The Mining Association of Canada pledged $50,000. The Imperial Oil Foundation promised $100,000 to the Canadian Red Cross. (Imperial owns 25% of Syncrude.) Suncor Energy has reduced its oil sands operations for the safety and well-being of its employees. As a starting point, Suncor has also made a donation to the Canadian Red Cross in the amount of $150,000. Undoubtedly there will be more.
When the fires burn out and the damage is assessed, putting a value on property losses is one thing, valuing the personal anguish of this tragedy is impossible.