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Reexamining Canada’s costliest disaster reveals four recommendations to improve wildfire resilience

Edmonton, Alberta , September 9, 2019

New research from Zurich Insurance and the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, Fort McMurray Wildfire: Learning from Canada's costliest disaster, outlines four recommendations to improve wildfire resilience.

Fort McMurray Wreckage of car

The costliest disaster in Canada’s history, the Horse River fire, also called the Fort McMurray fire, caused an estimated 88,000 people to evacuate the community in Northern Alberta and $8.9 billion damage in Canadian dollars. This fire burned out of control in northeastern Alberta between May 1 and July 4, 2016 and took over a year to extinguish.

Research on the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire from Zurich Insurance and the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR), Fort McMurray Wildfire: Learning from Canada's costliest disaster, outlines four recommendations to improve wildfire resilience:

  1. Learn to live with fire
  2. Establish a Wildland Fire Resilience Advisory Committee
  3. Invest in resilience and risk reduction
  4. Develop a pre-hazard major wildfire recovery plan

The methodology used to study the 2016 Fort McMurray fire combines Zurich’s award-winning, Post-Event Review Capability (PERC) approach, an open-source methodology designed to evaluate how natural hazards events turn into community disasters and to provide practical recommendations that promote community resilience, and Canada's Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, based on the Sendai Framework.

This report is Zurich’s 15th post-event review of a disaster and its first report studying a disaster in Canada. It’s also the first time Zurich’s PERC methodology has been adapted to study the peril of wildfire. Previous reports have focused on the peril of flood.