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July 2016

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IBEW Steps Up to Help Members Affected by
Historic Alberta Wildfire

The raging wildfires that tore through northeastern Alberta recently caused the largest fire-related evacuation in the province's history. Some 80,000 people were forced to flee the town of Fort McMurray, including members of Edmonton Local 424. And IBEW members from across Canada and the United States have stepped up to help.

"There is no doubt that our brothers and sisters in Alberta will be impacted by this event for quite some time," IBEW First District Vice President William Daniels said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with our members, their families, Albertans and all Canadians affected by these devastating fires."

IBEW Canada has set up a donation page,, in partnership with the Canadian Red Cross. All donations will be matched by both the federal and provincial governments, meaning that for every dollar donated, a total of three dollars will be raised.

Approximately 94,000 people have been displaced from Fort McMurray and the surrounding area.

The fire, known as "the beast," even scorched its way across the border into Saskatchewan, reported the CBC.

The fire has seared through almost 2,000 square miles and destroyed some 2,400 structures. Fortunately, about 85 percent of the city remains intact. Local 424 is working to locate members and assess their needs, said Assistant Business Manager Ken MacKenzie.

"We want to take care of our brothers and sisters," MacKenzie said. "We're going to be there for them for the coming months and however long it takes."

Local 424 also allocated $500,000 to assist affected members, said Business Manager Kevin Levy.

At the All Canada progress meeting in May, International President Stephenson pledged $10,000 from the IBEW Unity Fund and a raffle raised $2,800, Levy said.

Fort McMurray is located near Alberta's oil sands, the third largest oil reserve in the world. Efforts have been made to get the camps running again, but are dependent on favorable fire conditions. Portions of the area, which were largely unaffected originally, had reopened to allow some employees back. But by mid-May, changing fire conditions caused a second evacuation of about 8,000 people, reported the CBC. About 450 members live and work in Fort McMurray, said MacKenzie.

About half of Fort McMurray's evacuees were relocated to Edmonton, approximately 270 miles south.

"It's amazing what they've been able to do," International Representative Larry Schell said of Edmonton's quick response and ability to set up shelter and provisions.

Many residents of Alberta, including IBEW members, have stepped in to help, eager to lend a hand in rebuilding and whatever else needs to be done.

"You see it everywhere," MacKenzie said. "If you go in to any shop or business in Alberta, they're taking up a collection and asking people to volunteer and donate."

"Locals from all across Canada have called to help," Levy said. "The IBEW is really stepping up and reaching out, which allows us to focus on our members."

A statement from Vice President Daniels, which includes a link to the donation page, can be found on the IBEW Canada website at


"There is no doubt that our brothers and sisters in Alberta will be impacted by this event for quite some time."

IBEW First District Vice President William Daniels