With more than 80,000 residents forced to evacuate the Alberta city of Fort McMurray due to a raging wild fire, the National Hockey League is donating $100,000 to the Canadian Red Cross relief effort.
“The National Hockey League family stands with all who have been affected by the devastating fires in Fort McMurray,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in a statement on Thursday.
“We send thoughts of support and encouragement to our neighbors as they confront the physical and emotional impacts of this disaster.”
The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers are also each donating $100,000 to the relief effort, as per the Associated Press.
The evacuation is the largest fire evacuation in Alberta’s history, according to the Globe and Mail.
Alberta Emergency Management Agency estimated that 80,000 people had fled Fort McMurray; the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo said the figure could be closer to 90,000. Of those forced to evacuate, approximately 10,000 are north of the city, where they have been directed to shelter at work camps.
St. Louis Blues forward Scottie Upshall is from Fort McMurray, which is north of Edmonton, and he recently spoke about the devastation of that community.
“I saw the freeway that I used to drive in from the airport. And both sides of the roads were kind of just 100-foot flames. I saw a couple restaurants that I used to go eat at and those were gone,” Upshall told Postmedia.
“Yeah, there was a lot of things going through my head yesterday. Most of my family was trying not to overplay it at all, but there was nothing to really overplay when something like that happens. Just worried about the safety of friends and family, more so at the time my nieces, who were still in Fort McMurray while my brother and his fiancé are here watching us play.”