Mayor sees no need for Fort McMurray fire inquiry, but candidate supports idea
‘I don’t know if it will give you any detailed answers,' Mayor Melissa Blake says
The outgoing mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and the man running to replace her disagree about whether a public inquiry should be called into the Fort McMurray wildfire.
A week after two reports highlighted a number of missteps, Mayor Melissa Blake said she isn't sure a public inquiry would provide any more information the reviews haven't already covered.
"My concerns are the reports that have been done already have a lot of detail, and I don't know if it will give you any detailed answers," Blake said. "It is what it is."
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But mayoral candidate Don Scott, a former Tory cabinet minister, said he supports a public inquiry.
Their comments come a week after CBC News obtained a leaked copy of a report that criticized the province's wildfire response.
Reports outlined communication breakdown
Two reports released by the province last week were conducted by auditing firms MNP and KPMG. The reports listed a litany of problems caused by poor communication and co-ordination between Alberta Forestry wildfire crews and municipal firefighters.
The communication was so bad one municipal operations chief learned the fire had breached the city on social media, one report said.
A unified command centre wasn't established early on during the wildfire and there were delays getting heavy equipment close enough to fight the wildfire.
The radios used by first responders were not tuned to the same frequency, so some crews could not communicate with each other.
The May 2016 wildfire, the most expensive insured disaster in Canadian history, destroyed almost 2,000 homes or buildings.
The opposition Wildrose party has repeatedly called for a public inquiry into the wildfire.
Four months before a municipal election, Scott is the only candidate who has publicly announced he's running for mayor.
"I think that's a good idea," Scott said of an inquiry. "They can uncover a lot of information and they can be very helpful."
Scott said the inquiry should have powers to call witnesses, access information and allow residents and firefighters an opportunity to share their experiences.