On May 1st, 2016, a wildfire began southwest of Fort McMurray, Alberta that within days would sweep through the city and destroy more than 2,400 homes and displace more than 80,000 residents. The wildfire, which would come to be known as ‘The Beast’, would eventually grow to nearly 1.5 million acres.
Having established a strong and well-known desire to create a Team Rubicon in Canada, a small team of Canadian veterans set to work with their teammates at Team Rubicon USA to assess how to best support the residents impacted by the Fort McMurray wildfire. Working with local and provincial authorities, Team Rubicon Canada joined with Team Rubicon USA to launch its first official operation: Operation Pay Dirt.
On May 29, 2016, volunteers from the USA, Canada – and eventually the UK and Australia – arrived in Fort McMurray and set to work. Operating as a multinational team sharing common skills honed in the military and as first responders, Team Rubicon’s 80 volunteers would train an additional 300 locals to assist over 900 homeowners to sift through their properties to recover their valuables.