Canadian Jewish federations mount effort to help Alberta fire evacuees

(JTA) – Jewish federations across Canada, through Jewish Federations of Canada – UIA, have joined with the Jewish Federation of Edmonton to support victims of the wildfires that have been raging in Alberta forced the evacuation of the entire city of Fort McMurray.

The citizens of Fort McMurray were forced to flee their homes on May 4 after the Alberta government declared a state of emergency. Some 90,000 people in the city were displaced in the wake of the fires, which have been burning and spreading for the past week.

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Ve’ahavta, a Toronto-based social service organization whose programs include international crisis response, also launched a Fort McMurray relief fund last week, according to the Canadian Jewish News (CJN). The group said it would funnel the donations to established groups in the area such as the Red Cross and United Way in keeping with its mandate, CJN reported.

The Israeli humanitarian aid charity IsraAid told CJN that it already had a volunteer on the ground in Alberta to assess evacuees’ needs and would be sending a team to Canada for the first time.

Local synagogues also reportedly are raising money to help assist the evacuees.

The fire continued to burn on Sunday, a week after it started near Fort McMurray in northeast Alberta a week earlier. The blaze reportedly is moving southeast toward the nearby province of Saskatchewan to an area that is less populated.

Fort McMurray is the centre of Canada’s oil sands region, which manufactures about 1 million barrels of crude oil a day. The production was taken offline as of Friday, according to Reuters.

The Alberta government estimated on Saturday night that the fire had so far consumed 500,000 acres, an area the size of Mexico City.

Insurance losses could go higher than $7 billion, Reuters reported.

This report includes files from the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin.

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