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Slave Lake disaster lacked planning: Report


Staff writers
May 18, 2012 — A report looking at last year's Slave Lake fire criticizes officials and says that residents weren't given enough information.


Damage from the Slave Lake fire is pegged at close to $1 billion
Damage from the Slave Lake fire is pegged at close to $1 billion

The independent review was conducted by a committee that looked at how Alberta handled three wildfires that burned more than 20,000 kilometres. It says that people weren't warned about evacuation plans or safety risks in days leading up to the disasterous fire that ranks second only after the 1998 Quebec ice storm as Canada's costliest natural disaster.

The review also says that the advisories that the government did issue didn't include enough details about the precarious nature of the wildfires in windy conditions.

It also concludes that communication between government agencies lacked planning and clarity. Overloaded radio systems, loss of cellphone signals and power outages plagued residents trying to safely make their way out of the town.

Thousands of people were left homeless after the fire tore through their small town
Thousands of people were left homeless after the fire tore through their small town

The committee made 21 recommendations, including suggesting that Alberta should bolster first-response crews and increase the number and clarity of fire warnings.

Damage from the Slave Lake fire is estimated at almost $1 billion. More than 500 homes and businesses were destroyed, and thousands of people were forced to evacuate their homes.

With files from the Canadian Press

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