is racing to evacuate thousands of people as an uncontrolled wildfire
burns near Fort McMurray, in the heart of Canada's oil sands region,
forcing residents to flee north to safety.
appealed for help from other provinces and Ottawa to help fight the
fire and airlift people from the city. Local authorities issued a
mandatory evacuation order for all of Fort McMurray, which affects
the city's 80,000 residents.
of people are fleeing Fort McMurray in Canada as a fire threatens the
city. Photo:SCREENSHOT/ CBC video
2650 hectare fire, which was discovered on 1 May, has closed off the
main southern exit from the city, prompting residents to head north
towards the oil sands camp.
is the biggest evacuation we have seen in the history of the province
in terms of fire," Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said at a news
need to find more camps, we have secured spaces for about 6000
people, we know we need to find more and that work is underway,"
Energy said evacuees were welcome at its Firebag oil sands facility,
while Canadian Natural Resources Ltd said it was working to ensure
any affected CNRL workers and their families could use its camp.
Notley said there were no injuries or casualties in the fire, adding
that oil sands operations were also unaffected.
number of flights from Fort McMurray airport were cancelled and the
airport advised passengers to check with their airlines for updates.
blaze, which started southwest of Fort McMurray, spread rapidly on
Tuesday to the outskirts of the city, forcing the evacuation of the
downtown area and almost every community in the lower town on the
banks of the Clearwater and Athabasca rivers.
lots of smoke, its quite bad and hanging over the city. Where there
are trees in the distance you can see the fire," Fort McMurray
resident Nick Sanders said as he was packing up to leave downtown.
TV footage and photographs on Twitter showed flames and smoke
billowing over the city and traffic heading north on the highway to
safety, while CTV News reported a trailer park had been destroyed.
thoughts are with people affected by the fire in Fort McMurray
tonight. Stay safe and remember to follow evacuation orders,"
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted.
late afternoon, the fire had blocked off one major route out of town,
closing Highway 63 south of downtown.
residents were evacuated to Noralta Lodge, an oil sands camp 21
kilometres north of Fort McMurray.
is expected to be a more intense burning day than today is,"
said Bruce Mayer, assistant deputy minister of Alberta's Forestry
Mayer said that nine air tankers, more than a dozen helicopters and
more than 100 firefighters were battling the fire.
on Tuesday authorities said the wildfire jumped the Athabasca river
and breached Highway 63, the main artery south from the isolated
city, which is located around 430 km northeast of Alberta's capital,
are now expecting a cold front to reach Fort McMurray by Wednesday
afternoon (local time), bringing increased winds that will make
tomorrow a more difficult fire fighting day than today.
a mild winter with lower-than-average snowfall and a warm spring,
Alberta is much drier than normal for this time of year, raising the
prospect of a long and expensive wildfire season.
oil sands facilities are to the north and east of the city, with the
closest being Suncor Energy's base plant roughly 30 km away. A Suncor
spokesman said there were no current impacts on operations.
Gibson, a spokesman for the Syncrude project, which has its facility
around 40 km north of the city, said operations were unaffected.
spokesman for pipeline company Enbridge Inc, which has crude and
condensate pipelines in the region, said the company was monitoring
the situation but there were no impacts so far.
is the second major fire around the city in less than a year. Last
May, wildfires in the area led to the evacuation of hundreds of
workers from Canada's energy heartland, leading to a 9 percent cut in
Alberta's oil sands output at the time.