Fort McMurray bridge officially renamed Responders Way

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Fort McMurray bridge officially renamed Responders Way

A highway overpass in Fort McMurray has been renamed Responders Way to honour the firefighters, police and emergency workers who were the first to battle the wildfire nicknamed The Beast.

Transportation Minister Brian Mason was joined at Friday's ceremony by first responders from Fort McMurray Fire, EMS, RCMP, Alberta Sheriffs and bylaw enforcement.

"The depth of gratitude can never be repaid but it can be acknowledged," Mason said.

"It was appropriate they used that bridge; it is a fitting monument."

In a news release, Melissa Blake, mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, called Responders Way "a powerful symbol and reminder of the incredible courage and bravery that we witnessed in 2016."

Fire chief Jody Butz said 208 people in uniform from Wood Buffalo Emergency Services responded to the emergency.

"We are probably one of the strongest group of first responders because of that experience," Butz said.

The signs hang on the King Street overpass, which was also used as a symbol to welcome residents home in June after a month-long evacuation. Fire trucks draped a large Canadian flag over the bridge as evacuees returned.

The wildfire destroyed more than 2,400 structures and prompted the evacuation of 90,000 residents from Fort McMurray and surrounding communities. First responders helped people get out safely.

Premier Rachel Notley announced in October during a visit to Fort McMurray the province and the municipality was working on a plan to rename the bridge.