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Slave Lake to commemorate fire anniversary today

05/15/2012 10:48 EDT | Updated 07/15/2012 05:12 EDT

Alberta Premier Alison Redford will be in Slave Lake today to help residents mark the first anniversary of the devastating wildfire that destroyed one-third of the town.

Redford will join Slave Lake Mayor Karina Pillay-Kinnee, Lesser Slave Lake Reeve Denny Garratt, Sawridge First Nation Chief Roland Twinn and other local officials for the 10 a.m. ceremony at the Multi Recreation Centre.

The May 15, 2011, fire destroyed 374 properties, making it the second costliest disaster in Canadian history, with an estimated $742 million in insurance claims.

Thousands of residents fled the northern Alberta town, with many taking refuge at 10 different evacuation centres.

The province earmarked $289 million over three years to help Slave Lake recover from the disaster. The money helped with the costs of fighting the fire and replacing damaged fire equipment.

About $56.7 million of that money was set aside for emergency accommodation, interim housing and employment insurance assistance.

The town will wait to replace the damaged roads and sidewalks until most of the houses are rebuilt.

"We don't want to do that too soon or they'll just get damaged again," said Brian Vance, the chief administrative officer for Slave Lake.

"We didn't want to delay the rebuilding of the homes to do that."

Of the nearly 400 properties that were destroyed, the town has issued permits to rebuild about half.

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