Review of Some of the Disaster Events in Alberta Since 1986


Event Title


8 Feb 1986

Train Crash - Hinton

VIA Rail passenger train crashed into a CN freight train 23 deaths, 92 injured.

31 July 1987

Tornado - Edmonton & Area

Severe loss and damage occurred in 40 municipalities, principally the City of Edmonton and Strathcona County, due to tornado winds and flooding. There were 27 deaths and approximately 400 were injured. Estimated damages exceeded $400 million.

July 1988

Flash Flood - Slave Lake

The Sawridge Creek overflowed its banks and caused flooding in the Town of Slave Lake, Kinuso, Driftpile and Wabasca - July 6-8, 1988. The hospital was damaged and all patients were evacuated. Over 369 homes, 47 small businesses, 205 farm businesses, 11 municipalities, and 11 government departments experienced flood damage.

Spring 1992

Flooding - Town of Peace River

An ice jam on the Peace River resulted in flooding of the town.


Truck & Train collision - Kinsella

A crude oil B-train tanker and a CN train collided at a level crossing. Four lives were lost; the truck driver and 3 CN crew in the locomotive. The response included 8 fire departments including DND units from Wainwright. One water bomber was sent to put out fires along the track right-of-way.


Forest Fire - Marianna Lake

Residents of Conklin and Janvier were evacuated to the City of Fort McMurray when a forest fire in the Marianna Lake area threatened their communities. Highway 63 was closed for several days because of the fire.

June 1995

Flooding - Southern Alberta

Flooding occurred in southern Alberta on the heels of the forest fires in the north. Temperatures in the upper 20's the previous week, as well as spring run-off and rain, led to flooding which started in the Crowsnest Pass area and moved through to Pincher Creek, Fort MacLeod, Medicine Hat and then into Saskatchewan. In total, 27 municipalities were impacted. Communities in the west had no advance warning; however, Medicine Hat had 2-3 days warning which gave them lead time to plan and prepare for the event. The City was able to identify evacuation areas and provide information to citizens. This was Canada's worst natural disaster at that time. 

Spring 1997

Flooding - Northern & Central Alberta

Heavy autumn rains combined with a heavier than usual snowfall caused extensive road infrastructure damage in most municipalities in northern Alberta.


Wildfires - M.D. Willow Creek (Granum)

A prairie wild fire started in the MD of Pincher Creek and spread east destroying residences, farm buildings, fencing and pastures. The Town of Granum was evacuated to Claresholm.


Ice Road - Fort Chipewyan

Due to warm temperatures, the usual winter ice road could not be used and an emergency airlift of food and heating supplies was required.  The municipality declared a state of local emergency.

May 98

Forest Fire - Swan Hills & area Tolko Plant Fire - High Prairie

Forest fires twice forced the evacuation of the residents of Swan Hills (population 2,200) to Barrhead.

As well, during the same time frame, a fire at the Tolko plant west of High Prairie resulted in the evacuation of the hospital in High Prairie.

August 1999

Explosion & fire - Hub Oil

Explosions and fires at the Hub Oil used recycling plant in southeast Calgary resulted in 2 fatalities and several injuries. Residents from about 250 homes were evacuated; approximately 300 evacuees required emergency accommodation. There were public health concerns because of the debris that fell on homes and properties. 

July 2000

Tornado - Pine Lake (Red Deer County)

A tornado touched in Red Deer County, around the resort developments in and around Pine Lake. The catastrophic damage resulted in the loss of 12 lives and 140 people requiring hospital treatment. It also resulted in major damage to farms, cottages, homes and the Green Acres campground (450 of the 600 sites were damaged). The County of Red Deer declared a state of local emergency. In the 4 weeks following the Pine Lake tornado, five separate tornadoes touched down in rural areas near the following communities: Marwayne on July 23rd, Wabamum Lake on July 26th, Viking on August 1st, Elnora on August 6th and Sangudo on August 9th. Fortunately, only isolated damage occurred during these events and no further loss of life or human injury was experienced.
A detailed summary of this event is at the end of this chapter.

February 2001

Train Derailment - Red Deer (Dangerous Goods)

Four rail tankers containing anhydrous ammonia derailed near 67th Street and Highway 2. The City of Red Deer and County of Red Deer activated their municipal emergency plans and both declared a state of local emergency. Various areas of northwest Red Deer were evacuated. Red Deer College was used as a Reception centre, one person died, and 97 agencies responded.

26 August 2001

BP Canada Incident - Fort Saskatchewan

An uncontrolled ethane gas release and fire occurred at the BP Canada Energy Company natural gas liquids plant in Fort Saskatchewan. An elbow on a line connecting two wellheads that services an underground storage cavern failed. This is one of many large storage caverns in the Fort Saskatchewan area. Black smoke from the fire was significant and observable for many kilometres. The fire was put out on September 3, 2001. Approximately 14,500 cubic metres of ethane were lost. The size of the fire, the resulting black smoke seen for the first two days, as well as the size, type and location of the facility - close to highly populated areas resulted in widespread media coverage. Although the fire did not go outside the plant boundary, public information was an issue. Air quality was not compromised during this incident; however some citizens of the City of Fort Saskatchewan and the nearby counties of Sturgeon and Strathcona raised concerns about a lack of information on the status of the situation.

May 2001

Forest Fire - Chisholm & Sturgeon County

Local residents were evacuated and a number of homes were destroyed.

May 2002

Forest Fire - Smoky Lake County

A wildfire in the north central portion of the County resulted in the County declaring a state of local emergency on May 19/02 and the evacuation of approx. 70 homes.

May & June 2002

Forest Fires - Marianna Lake area (referred to as the House River Fire)

The House River fires resulted in periodic closures of Highway 63 over a period of several days. On May 27th, Conklin declared a state of local emergency and residents and several camps in the area were evacuated to Fort McMurray. A reception centre was established at Greely Road School to provide services and support to evacuees.

May 2002

Forest Fire - County of Sturgeon

Fires in the Redwater area resulted in the evacuation of approximately 83 families and a few homes being destroyed. The Town of Redwater declared a state of local emergency. Through Alberta Disaster Services (now AEMA), the County of Sturgeon requested and was provided military assistance to relieve and assist exhausted firefighters.

9 June 2002

Flooding - Southern Alberta

Heavy rain and snowfall caused flooding in southern Alberta. The following municipalities declared a state of local emergency: Towns of Pincher Creek, Coaldale and Magrath; Counties of Lethbridge, Warner and Cardston; Villages of Sterling, Warner and Foremost. The Blood Tribe at Standoff and the Peigan Nation at Brocket passed band council resolutions and evacuated residents.  Several boil water orders were issued.

11 June 2002

Fire - Fox Lake

Approximately 700 residents of Fox Lake (Little Red River Cree Nation) were evacuated, some by air to High Level, due to forest fires. Little Red River Cree Nation passed a band council resolution regarding the emergency. The High Level Office of Alberta Employment & Immigration provided support to evacuees.

29 August 2002

Flooding - Edson and area

Significant thunderstorms and heavy rain caused extensive flooding affecting over 300 homes and small businesses. The Town of Edson was most severely hit with rainfall exceeding 85 mm in a 2 hour time frame. Basement flooding, road washouts, infrastructure damage and some telecommunications outages occurred. Residents of a seniors' manor were displaced. The Town's emergency operations centre was established at the fire hall.

18 June 2003

Forest Fire - Fort McKay

The hamlet of Fort McKay (Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo) was evacuated to Fort McMurray due to forest fires. Fort McKay First Nation issued a band council resolution. As well, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo declared a state of local emergency.

30 June 2003

Severe Windstorm - Grimshaw

A severe windstorm struck the downtown area of Grimshaw causing significant damage to businesses, public infrastructure and power and telephone services. No serious injuries were reported and no requirement for evacuation.

July 2003

Wildfires - North Eastern, Central and Southern Alberta

Residents of Lost Creek (Crowsnest Pass area) and of several small communities were evacuated and the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass declared a state of local emergency. A reception centre was opened for 22 days.

Southwest of Sundre a number of campgrounds were evacuated, as well as approximately 500 residents.

Fort MacKay community was evacuated and the Regional Municipality of Fort McMurray declared a state of local emergency for the hamlet of Fort MacKay.

12 December 2004

Sour Gas Leak & Fire - Enoch First Nation

A sour gas leak and fire west of Edmonton forced approximately 800 people, mostly from Enoch First Nation, to evacuate their homes. Some could not return until after Christmas.

June & July 2005

Flooding - South & Central Alberta

Beginning in early June, many parts of the province experienced frequent heavy rainfall which led to flooding throughout much of southern and central Alberta. Thirty-two municipalities and First Nation communities declared a state of local emergency at some point between June 6th and 20th, 2005. A disaster recovery program of over $160 million was put into place to assist individuals, small businesses, municipalities and provincial government departments to recover from this event.

3 August 2005

Train Derailment - Wabamun

Bunker-C oil and pole treating oil spilled into Lake Wabamun when 43 CN rail cars derailed beside the lake. This major spill quickly became a catastrophe for the community and a disaster for the environment. The Environment Minister established the Environmental Protection Commission in August 2005 and in December 2005 the Commission released their findings and made several recommendations to strengthen Alberta's response to incidents. The report is available at:

2 July 2006

Wildfire - Nordegg

Lightning strikes resulted in a wildfire near the community of Nordegg. Approximately 200 people were evacuated. The County of Clearwater declared a state of local emergency.

17 April 2007

Condo Fire - Fort McMurray

On April 17th, an apartment fire in a low-cost housing complex in Ft. McMurray left some 300 people without housing or personal belongings. The local emergency operations centre was operational at the time due to ice jam advisories for the area and was able to quickly set up disaster social services. A reception centre was opened and 15 families had housing arranged by a local church.

1 - 2 July 2008

Flooding - Lethbridge

A State of local emergency was declared in the City of Lethbridge on July 1 2008 due to flooding caused by heavy rain. The Alberta Emergency Management Agency had an officer on scene to relay information back to the Agency Response Readiness Centre. The City reported some breaches at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. Most waste stayed on site, however there was some discharge into the Oldman River. This was reported to Alberta Environment.

26 July - 4 August 2008

Transalta Keephills Dam Breach

On July 26, the primary ash lagoon at the Transalta Keephills Coal-Fired Electrical Generating Plant near Lake Wabamun failed, resulting in ash-slurry-water mixture flowing out of the lagoon into another pond (Decant Pond) on site which did not have enough capacity to hold in case of a total dyke failure. A high probability of the dam breaching existed through the weekend as pumping and earth moving operations continued. Highway 627 and an adjacent property would be affected if a breach occurred, and road crews were put in place to be able to close the highway if necessary. The Agency Response Readiness Centre monitored this incident closely, and in the end no breach occurred.

24 October 2008

Fire and Explosion - AT Plastics

At 0745 an explosion and fire was reported at A & T Plastics in North East Edmonton. Fire departments were on scene as well as Hazardous Materials and Air Quality. There were six people injured, but none seriously. The Alberta Emergency Management Agency sent a Field Officer to Edmonton Emergency Operations Centre to monitor the situation and assist. There was a significant media interest in this event.

July 2010 Flooding - Medicine Hat and Cypress County Flash floods cause $200 million in damage to homes and infrastructure in Medicine Hat and Cypress County.  The estimate of repairs makes this one of the most expensive disasters in Alberta history.
3 - 5 Augsut 2010 Airdrie/Rockyview County Train Derailment Train derailment near Airdrie, Alberta with 11 rail cars of Anhydrous Ammonia.  Mutual aid from Crossfield, City of Calgary, and response by CP Rail and Agrium prevent the need for evacuation of 40,000 people.  

Pine Lake Tornado July 14, 2000

The information on the next page summarizes the events of the Pine Lake Tornado and was provided courtesy of the County of Red Deer. It is an account of the response to a sudden, high-impact event. Coordination, communication and cooperation were required between the County of Red Deer and numerous external agencies to manage the response to the disaster.

Pine Lake Tornado News Cast

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