On May 1, 2016, a wildfire began southwest of Ft. McMurray, Alberta, Canada. In the days that followed, the fire swept through the community, destroying more than 2,400 homes and buildings and forcing residents to flee in the biggest wildfire evacuation in Albertan history, spanning more than 1.4 million acres. The fire spread across northern Alberta and into Saskatchewan, impacting forested areas and oil sands operations alike, becoming the costliest disaster in Canadian history.
On May 30, Team Rubicon USA and Team Rubicon Canada launched Operation Pay Dirt, and deployed 80 members to Fort McMurray, Alberta, to assist the Regional Emergency Operations Centre and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo in resident re-entry efforts. Team Rubicon members led teams of local resources in sifting through potentially hazardous debris and ash in destroyed homes to find keepsakes, heirlooms, and valuables for the residents.
Tasked with the challenge of building, supplying, and managing a 300+ person response in just a few days, Team Rubicon called on members of TR USA, TR UK, and TR Australia to support the recently-launched TR Canada.