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Fort McMurray fire: One year later, a look at a city working to rebuild from tragedy

One year later

On the anniversary of the fire that swept Fort McMurray, photographer Todd Korol returns to a community working to rebuild

Photo: Jason Franson/THE CANADIAN PRESS

It's been one year since a wildfire devastated parts of the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray, forcing tens of thousands to flee for a month or more and leaving a permanent scar on the community.

The fire, nicknamed “the beast,” covered nearly 1,500,000 acres and burned for two months before it was declared under control.

AFP PHOTO /NASA

1,595

Number of buildings and structures destroyed in the fire, including 2,579 units of housing in homes and apartments.

May 6, 2016 The Beacon Hill neighbourhood was one of the first and hardest-hit areas, and residents living there were among the last allowed to return.

Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

April 22, 2017 One year later, Beacon Hill is rebuilding.

Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail
“Driving through Beacon Hill I was hit with how bad the fire was. In the simplest of terms, part of the neighborhood was wiped off the earth. There are no remnants of burnt out buildings anymore. New houses are sprouting up replacing the homes that people put years into building.”
Todd Korol, Photographer

May 6, 201670 per cent of the homes in Beacon Hill were lost. Many buildings that weren’t destroyed by fire were rendered uninhabitable by toxic ash.

Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

April 22, 2017Since the fire, 423 demolition permits and 66 permits to rebuild have been issued for the neighbourhood. Across the city, there have been nearly 1,800 demolitions.

Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

$3.8 billion

Estimated total payout in insurance claims. Roughly 48,000 insurance claims are expected to be processed, including 12,000 for vehicles and 25,000 for homes.

May 6, 2016 Smoke covers Franklin Drive in downtown Fort McMurray after the evacuation. Though most had fled south, 25,000 residents headed north to isolated oil industry work camps that were subsequently cut off by fire; days later, they were led south by convoy.

Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

April 22, 2017. Today, life on Franklin Drive is returning to normal.

Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

May 7, 2016 Donations meant for wildfire evacuees arrive by the truckload in Boyle, Alberta. In addition to supplies like clothing and water, the Red Cross raised $323-million, including matching donations from the province and Ottawa. About three-quarters of that money has been spent or committed to recovery projects.

Ian Willms/The New York Times

April 22, 2017 The hockey rink used as an evacuation shelter in Boyle.

Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

37,000

The number of cleanup kits handed out to returning evacuees.

May 7, 2016 Donated water destined for emergency workers is seen in Wandering River, Alta., about 200 kilometres south of Fort McMurray. Shelters and staging areas were set up in several communities in the region, in some cases facing their own evacuations as the fire spread.

Ian Willms/The New York Times

April 22, 2017 The Wandering River staging area nearly a year later.

Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

May 8, 2016 A police officer monitors traffic at a checkpoint about 24 kilometres south of Fort McMurray. The highways in and out of the community were shut down for weeks.

Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

April 22, 2017 Highway 63 south of Fort McMurray.

Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

222

Number of single-family homes started in the first three months of the year, the most starts in a three-month stretch since early 2008.

February 16, 2017 Rebuilding continues on Prospect Drive, where nearly all of the homes had been destroyed.

Amber Bracken/The Globe and Mail

CREDITS: MATTHEW FRENCH, JEREMY AGIUS, JAMES KELLER and RANDY VELOCCI. Photography by TODD KOROL and AMBER BRACKEN, with reports from The Canadian Press

One year later