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8 Wing ready to assist in Fort McMurray

A CC-130J Hercules aircraft departed from 8 Wing/Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Trenton just after noon on Wednesday to assist in whatever way might be required at Fort McMurray in the wake of the devastating wildfires ripping through the city and surrounding area. Photo by Ross Lees

A CC-130J Hercules aircraft departed from 8 Wing/Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Trenton just after noon on Wednesday to assist in whatever way might be required at Fort McMurray in the wake of the devastating wildfires ripping through the city and surrounding area. Photo by Ross Lees

By Ross Lees
An 8 Wing Canadian Forces Base Trenton aircraft and personnel departed for Fort McMurray, Alberta Wednesday to provide any assistance needed as devastating wildfires burn, and evacuation orders expand through the city and surrounding area. A state of emergency has been declared and about 90,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and businesses.

Initial response includes an aircraft crew, four Mobile Air Movements Sections personnel and an image technician. 8 Wing Commander Colonel Colin Keiver, under the direction of Major-General D.L.R. Wheeler in Winnipeg, has been tasked to to pre-position them as close to Fort McMurray to be ready to go to work. Everything else is on standby.

8 Wing Commander Col. Colin Keiver responding to questions from the media concerning the Wing’s tasking to pre-position to assist in Fort McMurray.

8 Wing Commander Col. Colin Keiver responding to questions from the media concerning the Wing’s tasking to pre-position to assist in Fort McMurray. Ross Lees photo

“We’ve not been tasked with anything else,” Col. Keiver said. “What we’ve done at the Wing is we’ve put a C-17 and an Airbus crew and airplanes on standby and there are a bunch of people here at 2 Air Movements who are also on standby to go as well. This operation will be about moving things, either into Fort McMurray or out of Fort McMurray. It’s these airplanes that will do that and these people – like the Air Movements technicians – that will help get those things on and off the airplanes. That’s what we’re posturing ourselves to do right now.”

Beyond those instructions, Col. Keiver and the personnel at 8 Wing know little except they want to be ready to respond to any eventuality.

“I don’t know what we’re going to move, when we’re going to move it or how much we’re going to move, but we’re getting ready to move. We’ve got a big empty hole in the back of that airplane and what we decide to put in it is what we decide to put in it. It could absolutely involve evacuees and I don’t know what the state of that is right now, but I expect it’s going to involve a little bit of bringing things out of Fort McMurray and bring things into Fort McMurray to assist the community.”

The people tasked to go on the initial flight are well qualified, he said.

“Even getting into Fort McMurray through the smoke coming in, there will probably be instrument procedures required to get in,” he said. “At the end of the day, what we will do is we will still be safe and effective and we’ll still accomplish the mission.”

How you can help:
The Red Cross is accepting donations on its website or by phoning 1-800-418-1111. A $5 donation can also be made by texting REDCROSS to 30333.

The Salvation Army is also accepting donations on its website. They will also be providing food, clothing and shelter.

The Samaritan’s Purse is accepting donations through its website and will be sending a team to Fort McMurray to provide physical and emotional support once the evacuation order has been lifted.

The Wood Buffalo Food Bank, which serves Fort McMurray, is accepting donations through PayPal to provide for evacuees.

The Edmonton Humane Society has set up a fund to assist animals separated from their owners during the fires.

The Fort McMurray SPCA is working with local authorities to reunite residents with pets they were forced to leave behind and are accepting donations.

 

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