Under what is now the largest mass evacuation order in Alberta’s history, residents of Fort McMurray drove North or South depending on which direction provided the easiest exit from the inferno.
So far no serious injuries have been reported and Wakenya Canada can confirm that some Kenyan residents of Fort McMurray are safe. Many headed South to Edmonton, about 500km away.
Gitau Arap Thuo, a Kenyadian resident of Fort McMurray went north to Fort Mackay. I reached him Wednesday morning and he shared some details of the terrifying moments. “We are okay after driving all night to get to a safe place.” He said.
“We are with thousands others in a lodge in oilsands area which have opened doors for evacuees.” Thuo tells me. He says he is unsure how many Kenyans live in Fort McMurray but that “I have talked to all Kenyans I know and they are heading south to Edmonton and other towns.”
Late Tuesday, provincial and fire officials named several residential neighbourhoods in the oilsands capital that they believe have been lost to fire.
Thuo says there is no way to know if their home and property is still safe. “We are watching TV, waiting for the Mayor’s speech. The hospital has been evacuated and our home is near the hospital so we can only hope.”
I asked Thuo if they needed any help from Kenyans in other Canadian provinces, to which he replied that they are getting help from the Alberta government so they are okay for now.
This is the largest wildfire evacuation in the province’s history, far surpassing the Slave Lake fire that made international headlines five years ago.
If you are a Kenyan in Fort McMurray and wish to reach out to other Kenyans or share your story, please contact us here on wakenyacanada.com or facebook.com/wakenyacanada.