Fort McMurray funeral home staff hauled body, cremated remains during evacuation

As residents of Fort McMurray snatched up key belongings before fleeing their homes last week, employees at the northern Alberta community's lone funeral home packed a more "precious" cargo.

As residents of Fort McMurray snatched up key belongings before fleeing their homes last week, employees at the northern Alberta community’s lone funeral home packed a more “precious” cargo.

The evacuation order that displaced some 80,000 people came days before a scheduled funeral service, and staff at the Robert Anderson Funeral Home had to safeguard the deceased’s body, the company’s funeral director said.

“We were part of the evacuees, we were in the lineups, we just happened to have had a deceased with us on the route to Edmonton,” Andrew Montgomery told The Canadian Press in a telephone interview.

“Obviously, we have precious cargo and we just take every precaution that we can,” he said. “We were more than ready to go. We had files packed up, cremated remains packed up and we’ve got them all in safe storage here in Edmonton.”

The body was placed on a stretcher and transported in a removal van.

“We just…did what we had to do,” Montgomery said. In those situations, he said, “We’ve just got to think of things really quickly.”

Asked if he was stressed to shoulder such responsibility at a time of crisis, Montgomery said: “It makes you forget about your own problems.”

“You just go into this mode, it’s a little bit crazy,” he said.

A funeral home in Edmonton has agreed to “house the body for us in a controlled environment” until the service, which is to be held in the city later this week.

The company has been talking with family members about arrangements, he said.

The man’s daughter had previously posted on Facebook that the service would be postponed until further notice.

The funeral home has set up shop temporarily in Edmonton until it can return to Fort McMurray.

Satellite images suggest the funeral home is “still intact,” Montgomery said, but it’s unclear when it will be able to operate.

All three staff members are doing well so far and it appears their homes have been spared, he said.

Just Posted

Alberta’s men and women speedskaters take silver in relay

Speedskaters credited hard training for Friday’s success

Photo radar unlikely to change in Red Deer

City participates in photo radar review

Trial into fatal Canada Day crash to continue

A trial into a fatal Canada Day 2016 crash failed to wrap… Continue reading

NEB gives Trans Mountain pipeline expansion its endorsement

CALGARY — The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the… Continue reading

Regulator’s report unlikely to settle Trans Mountain pipeline expansion battle

CALGARY — An environmental group that tried to widen the scope of… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: Must-have wardrobe basics

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Local Sports: Tanner Butler: A gifted defenceman

RDC hockey Kings head coach Trevor Keeper had an idea of what… Continue reading

Stettler RCMP looking for hit-and-run driver

A white Dodge truck with a flat deck backed into a car… Continue reading

Seniors: Who owns your medical records?

Have you ever been asked to fill in authorization forms or pay… Continue reading

Ponoka man attacked by dogs issues plea to town council

Troubles with bylaw and handling of court case prompts presentation to council

‘Napalm Girl’ to discuss journey from hatred to forgiveness

Latest Herr Lecture to feature Kim Phuc Phan Thi at LMC

Rabbits saved from barn fire in Ponoka County

The Ponoka County East District Fire Department was called to a barn fire

Abel begins diving season on brink of record for most worlds medals

MONTREAL — Jennifer Abel could make history this summer in Gwangju, South… Continue reading

On eve of return to Toronto, former Raptors star DeRozan says he’s “moved on”

TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan has found closure. When the player once fondly… Continue reading

Most Read