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Preparedness and Experiences of Evacuees from the 2016 Fort McMurray Horse River Wildfire

Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E3, Canada
This manuscript is an extended version of the conference paper “Residents’ experiences of the 2016 Fort McMurray Wildfire, Alberta”, presented at the 8th International Conference on Forest Fire Research.
Received: 18 February 2019 / Revised: 3 March 2019 / Accepted: 3 March 2019 / Published: 6 March 2019
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Abstract

The 2016 Fort McMurray Horse River Wildfire that caused the evacuation of more than 88,000 residents from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB), Alberta is the largest wildfire evacuation in Canadian history. This paper presents results of an online survey of 447 evacuees in June when some residents had returned to RMWB, and others were still living elsewhere. Results of this online survey show that many survey respondents were not aware of the high wildfire risk leading up to May 3rd and social cues indicated they should carry on as usual. Many respondents received little if any warning time to enable them to prepare. Most respondents had a vehicle, but traffic impediments caused some to run out of gas, food and water on the drive away from Fort McMurray. Most respondents stayed in more than one location, with most staying with friends and family for at least part of the evacuation. Some respondents faced challenges including financial difficulties, finding suitable accommodation, and dealing with insurance, and some received insufficient information. Help was offered to evacuees by a vast array of sources including organizations, businesses, communities, and residents. The results of this study show that most survey respondents were not prepared before they had to leave, which increased reliance on help provided by others. View Full-Text
Keywords: wildfire; evacuation; preparedness; risk perception; social cues; environmental cues; warning; traffic; host communities; accommodation; help; support wildfire; evacuation; preparedness; risk perception; social cues; environmental cues; warning; traffic; host communities; accommodation; help; support
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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McGee, T.K. Preparedness and Experiences of Evacuees from the 2016 Fort McMurray Horse River Wildfire. Fire 2019, 2, 13.

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