Fort McMurray Fire Likely Caused by Humans According to Wildfire Investigators

The Fort McMurray fire that caused more than 90,000 people to be evacuated from their homes and covered more than 5,900 square kilometers was likely caused by humans according to wildfire investigators. The RCMP are asking for the public’s help to determine whether the fire was intentionally set or if was accidental.

Wildfire investigators ruled out lightning as the cause of the devastating fire, which leaves humans as the most likely cause. The RCMP are looking to speak to anyone who was in or near the Horse River Trail system between April 29 and May 5. Speaking to Fort McMurray Today, Cpl. Hal Turnbull said:

“We are looking for evidence if any criminal offence was the cause of the fire, such as arson. We don’t have any reason right now to suspect it’s that,”

The fire was first spotted at the beginning of May, but it rapidly turned into an out of control blaze. More than 2,000 firefighters have been working virtually around the clock to get the fire under control, and on Monday, they finally got a bit of good news. Wildfire information officer Lynn Daina provided an update advising that the Fort McMurray fire is now classified as being “held” for the first time since it began.

Albertans are not quite out of the woods yet, since a “held” fire means that while it is no longer growing, the fire is not under control yet either. However, this is still good news for the residents of Fort McMurray, since about half of the evacuated residents have been waiting for better news before returning to their homes.

On Thursday HGTV star Mike Holmes announced that he was taking a team of contractors to Fort McMurray to help rebuild homes. His team will head to Alberta on June 24 to look at homes that have suffered from smoke damage. Officials have already deemed three communities uninhabitable, and no decision has been made as to whether those houses will be salvaged.

While the fire has not killed anyone directly, two people lost their lives while fleeing the flames. The 15-year-old daughter of a Deputy Fire Chief, who was also one of a set of triplets, and her 19-year-old cousin died in a head-on car collision.

The Fort McMurray wildfire is expected to cost insurance companies more than $9 billion when all is said and done. There have been 15 helicopters, 88 fire engines, and 2,000 firefighters participating in fighting the blaze. More than 36,000 households have been registered with the Red Cross, 5,500 people have stayed in reception centers, and $44 million was raised by the Red Cross.

In addition, the Conference Board of Canada estimates that the fire could impact the Alberta economy drastically with close to $1 billion in oilsands production lost. Twelve oilsands production facilities were shut down as a result of the massive blaze, although they have since reopened.

Fundraisers to help those affected by the Fort McMurray wildfires have been taking place all across Canada, ranging from small school organized events, to bigger scale concerts and shows. A benefit concert is taking place June 29 at Commonwealth Stadium Recreation Centre, with Canadian band Nickelback headlining, and other artists such as Blue Rodeo, Corb Lund, and Dean Brody also performing.

Tickets for the event range from $35 to $90 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster. There will be an option to purchase tickets but give them away to Fort McMurray residents. The capacity for the event is between 40,000 to 45,000 people. The concert is going to be big enough that the Edmonton Music Awards moved their show, which was scheduled for the same night, to a night earlier. Also performing at the Fire Aid for Fort McMurray show, are the Rankin Family, Dallas Smith, Brett Kissel, Randy Bachman, the Sadies, Ian Tyson, Alan Doyle, Dear Rouge and High Valley. The show starts at 5:00pm.

[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]

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