Canadian PM arrives in fire-ravaged Fort McMurray

"A good step forward, a great step forward in ensuring that from this moment on, we are much more organized and more effective in ensuring that all these families are receiving what they need as effectively as possible".

"Yes, this was a awful disaster to befall this community but there is strength here and a will to build a stronger future", Trudeau added.

In a helicopter fly-over with various leaders, he saw a downtown core that was deserted and immobile, and children's toys left on the front lawns of intact houses. "You'll see us getting back some of the operations back very quickly and then it gets a little bit tougher as we get down towards Fort McMurray".

Speaking to 150 first responders, following a tour of the city, the prime minister said despite constant updates and watching the situation unfold on TV, only today did he come to understand the full scale of what had happened.

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The agency released a list of the 10 most expensive catastrophes in Canadian history, and events in Alberta make up seven spots on the list. That fire is now 30% contained, although Fire Information Officer Noelle Kekula says that those figures may change over the weekend as crews conduct controlled burns on the 58,000 hectare fire. "We've looked at the numbers".

In addition, Ottawa has expedited employment insurance applications for evacuees who have lost their jobs to give them some immediate relief.

DBRS Ltd. said on Friday that it will take months before the full cost of rebuilding the oil sands-centred community can be determined, but estimates of what insurers will likely have to pay can be tallied based on the benchmark of the Slave Lake fire in 2011 and some recent government disclosures. For as long as it takes, Red Cross will continue to help people and communities rebuild and recover from this disaster.

Their work over more than a week in extreme conditions prevented the total destruction of the city by the fire, which is still active and out of control but located far from populated areas.

Pearce, who believes both her home and the hotel where she works survived the fire, said the emergency funds are helpful.

"We've been working hard for the last two or three days on this re-entry plan (for residents)", he told reporters on the ground.

Melissa Blake, mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, said it is critical for Trudeau to tour the burned neighbourhoods.

Alberta Member of Parliament Kent Hehr, who heads the special committee, said it is important to show people that the federal government will be there for them in the reconstruction.

Officials asked him if they should move it, but the prime minister said no, the owner should be the one who comes back to find it.

Four major oil firms operating in the area around Fort McMurray have now declared force majeure, a contract clause to remove liability for unavoidable catastrophes.

Notley got her first direct look at the devastation on Monday after cold temperatures and light rain had stabilized the massive wildfire to a point where officials could begin planning how to allow residents to return.

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