Edmonton area campsites take in Fort McMurray Evacuees

Hundreds of Fort McMurray evacuees have made temporary homes at camp grounds and RV parks around Edmonton while they wait to find out if they’ll be able to return to their city.

Hundreds of evacuees make temporary homes in RVs and tents

Paul Street lived in Fort McMurray for more than a decade. He said he and his family have been able to make a temporary home in their RV thanks to the free camp site provided by Rainbow Valley. (CBC)

Hundreds of Fort McMurray evacuees have made temporary homes at campgrounds and RV parks around Edmonton as they wait to find out if they'll be able to return to their city.

While some people who fled in RVs or motorhomes are staying in parking lots, camps have offered steep discounts for Fort McMurray residents who want a campsite of their own.

"They gave us our own little campsite and said we can stay here for weeks," said Pamela Duffett, a hospital worker who made a harrowing escape from her home in Fort McMurray last Wednesday.

"I have a comfortable bed to sleep in and I had a yummy meal this morning, so I'm very fortunate compared to some people."

Pamela Duffett and her family are staying at the Rainbow Valley Campsite in Edmonton free of charge. (CBC)

She and her family are staying at the Rainbow Valley Campsite in Edmonton free of charge.

The site is reserving spots for evacuees with RVs or tents that need a place to stay.

Duffett described her family's flight from Fort McMurray as terrifying, but said the reality hasn't really set in yet.

"It just feels like I'm camping," she said.

Her father, Paul Street, said the RV has been his family's main shelter for the last week. He said they've even found a community of other Fort McMurray evacuees who escaped the fire in RVs.

"We're comfortable enough," he said.  "Thankfully we got that thing, and we're able to make a home here."

Evacuees camping all over the region

Duffett and Street are not alone. Many people have made campsites their temporary homes, some even spending the night in tents.

A few are expecting to be there for a long time.

"There's no restriction on the length of stay, [they can stay] until they can pull out and head back north," said Tim Dea, communications manager for the campsite.

Yesterday, the Premier announced it will be at least two weeks before a schedule for residents' return to Fort McMurray is released.

While other campsites are charging evacuees, many have offered heavy discounts.

Some have moved other reservations to make room for the displaced Fort McMurray Residents.


Shakers Acres, in west Edmonton, has taken in 26 families.

In Devon, a reception centre with food and toiletries has been set up for the 100 evacuees setting up camp at the Devon Lions Campground.

Someone has even donated a video game console so kids have some entertainment.

"There's a lot of caring people in this area," said Randy Bertrand, Devon Lions' campground manager.

He said some may even turn their temporary homes into more permanent living situations. He said many evacuees have begun to enroll their children in the local school.