Justin Trudeau visits Fort McMurray today

"I was not able to get here until now, so I was following all of the updates and watching the images on TV and seeing the scale of this" he said.

And Prime Minister Trudeau stopped by to thank them for all their help, as he was on his way to Fort McMurray.

The prime minister was presented with his own Fort McMurray fire jacket by fire chief Allen on the tarmac of the Edmonton International Airport prior to a flight to Fort McMurray.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau toured Fort McMurray Friday, both by ground and by air and praised the work of emergency crews, first responders and government officials. The prime minister was presented with his own Fort McMurray fire jacket by Chief Darby Allen on the tarmac of the worldwide airport prior to a flight to Fort McMurray, about 435 kilometres to the northeast.

"It's a little eerie", Trudeau said.

"One of the challenges for politicians is that they need to get help to people, and it's often hard to show that you're doing that in the short term", said Christopher Cochrane, a political science professor at the University of Toronto.

Trudeau's day began in Edmonton, shaking the hand of the man who has been the face of the response, Fort McMurray fire chief Darby Allen. "That's why we are ensuring that anyone with a Saskatchewan student loan who is affected by the Fort McMurray wildfires and evacuation will not have to make a payment for six months".

Trudeau's government is also putting together a special cabinet committee to co-ordinate Fort McMurray aid and reconstruction efforts.

Local officials say it will be 10 days before they can even produce a plan for resettlement, much less allow people to return to a place where small fires are still erupting.

Fort McMurray, Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates and Fort McMurray First Nation remain under a mandatory evacuation order. "At some points we had to tell workers "you've been here twenty hours, it's time for you to go home and get a rest".

"People just pulled up with a truck and said "I heard you needed some water" and donated to us right there", says Hamilton.

Trudeau's government has already promised to match donations made by Canadians to the Red Cross disaster relief fund, which had now crossed the $50-million mark on Wednesday.

Alberta officials said 2,432 structures have been destroyed, 530 damaged and 25,000 saved. The fire is now more than 2,400 square kilometres in size and has moved away from the city.

"The (Fort McMurray fire), in our opinion, would likely continue to reinforce the trend of rate increases, particularly for insured risks in Alberta more than other provinces", Standard and Poor's analyst Hardeep Manku wrote in a report published Friday.


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