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Fire Chief Butz says Horse River Wildfire offers learning opportunity

Last Updated Jun 13, 2017 at 9:04 am MDT

PHOTO. Fort McMurray Fire Chief, Jody Butz at a press conference on June 9, 2017 in response to the provincial governments 2016 wildfire reviews. Melanie Walsh. AFTERNOON NEWS ANCHOR.

The province released two independent reports on June 8, 2017 about their response into the wildfire last May.

The reports produced by KPMG and MNP, states there was critical communications breakdown.

Communication broke down when one crew chief realized the fire would enter the community, but failed to inform crews in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

The municipality had to learn from social media that the fire was entering the community.

Fire Chief Jody Butz held a press conference on June 9, 2017, stating that these post-incident assessments are essential to becoming better prepared, that there are opportunities for learning and the Horse River Wildfire is no different.

“The Horse River Wildfire was an unprecedented event with respect to both scale and rate of change. It is critical for us as a Municipality to have a complete understanding of the events leading up to the evacuation, which is why we’ve requested that KPMG focus on the initial response as part of our ongoing review,” Said Butz.

“We want to ensure that we learn as much as possible from this experience so that the Municipality can be better prepared and that the learnings can be shared to help municipalities across Alberta and beyond prepare for emergencies.”

Combined the two reports offer 31 recommendations to improve wildfire fighting efforts and emergency preparedness. Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Oneil Carlier, says the province is already working to implement 19 of them.

Leader of the Wildrose, Brian Jean who lost his home in Waterways, is calling for a judge-led public inquiry for more transparency from the NDP government.

The RMWB has contracted members of KPMG to conduct a separate report to see how the municipality responded and has been recovering at a regional level.