Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Catastrophic wildfires in Alberta to flee from Port McMurray

"The worst environmental disaster in Canadian history is happening right now.

"The Athabasca tar sands are on fire. 

"Fort McMurray is built on top of the tar sands."

Please Get Us Out” — Freak Alberta Wildfire Threatens to Engulf City of Fort McMurray, 61,000 Forced to Evacuate

Emergency situation now developing in Fort McMurray, Alberta where a massive wildfire in this near-Arctic zone is  engulfing the city. This is a very dangerous developing situation that includes multiple structure fires. More updates to follow

Conditions Consistent With Climate Change Fans Massive Fire Near City Made by Tar Sands Production

Yesterday, a massive, out of season, wildfire began to encroach upon the City of Fort McMurray, Alberta — a region of Canada known for its production of the hothouse gas emitting tar sands. The fire, now estimated to cover more than 2,600 hectares, last night jumped the Athabasca River and, with a switch in the wind toward the southwest, began to approach the city.

Today, these southerly winds running up behind a high amplitude wave in the Jet Stream pushed temperatures into the upper 80s and lower 90s (F) — readings that are about 30-35 degrees (F) above average for this time of year — over a broad swath of Northwestern Canada. The heat-baked air wrung out moisture and drew humidity readings into the very dry 20 percent range. For this region of Canada, these are highly abnormal conditions consistent with weather pattern alterations forced by human-caused climate change.
(It was hotter in Northwest Canada today than it was in the Central US. Extreme heat related to human-forced warming that contributed to a dangerous developing fire situation in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

To the north, a very early recession of sea ice in the Beaufort and opening up of waters there likely assisted this Jet Stream anomaly, extreme high temperatures, and hot southerly winds that pushed fire conditions in Alberta to unprecedented levels. The south winds, far, far hotter than normal temperatures and very low humidity contributed to a very dangerous situation fanning flames as they encroached upon the city — burning structures, igniting oil fires and forcing motorists to abandon their vehicles.

All Fort McMurray City Residents Ordered to Flee

As of latest reports, all of Fort McMurray’s city proper has been placed under mandatory evacuation orders. That makes for a total of more than 60,000 people evacuated. Including outlying suburbs, the city includes 100,000 souls — a number of whom may also be forced to leave as the evening progresses.
Many residents, like Jenine in the tweet above, had to scramble to vehicles as fires approached their neighborhoods, spurring some to turn to social media in order to plea for assistance. The proximity of the flames was so close that many residents were unable to bring any personal belongings. With the entire city being ordered to evacuate, both lanes of Highway 63 are being used for outbound traffic. Even so, motorists remain stuck in gridlock or stop and go traffic and have been forced to drive through billowing smoke and along beside the raging fires. Some vehicles stalled in the hot winds — leaving highway 63 strewn with empty cars, trucks, and buses.
Huge Mobilization Underway, But Much of the City May Succumb to the Fire

Firefighters, who earlier today acknowledged the severity of the situation, are now scrambling to deal with numerous blazes entering the town. Social media imagery now shows gas stations, stores, and homes all being encroached upon or engulfed by the growing fires. As of current reports, numerous structures including a trailer home community, a Super 8 Motel, and multiple homes including that of one city official have burned. Unfortunately, given the severity of the situation, the number of burned structures is likely to grow as the evening progresses.

(MODIS satellite shot of Fort McMurray Fire and smoke plume earlier today.)

Considering the massive pall of smoke covering Fort McMurray and the fact that firefighters have been overwhelmed by the intensity of the fires — leaving some structures to burn — the situation appears to have grown completely out of control. National officials are scrambling to allocate more resources to what is a very difficult and dangerous situation. A national emergency has been declared and an outpouring of assistance and resources is now aimed in the direction of Fort McMurray.
(Best hopes and prayers to everyone involved in this terrible situation. Please stay safe and stay tuned to official broadcasts for updated information on fires and evacuations.)

LIVEBLOG: Updates on the Fort McMurray wildfires

The situation in Alberta has been changing quickly.

Here is the latest, according to Alberta Emergency Alert: "All of Fort McMurray is under a mandatory evacuation order including Saprae Creek. The Reception Centre at MacDonald Island has been evacuated, with those evacuees sent to the Anzac Recreation Centre. The Fort McMurray International Airport remains open at this time."

"All of Fort McMurray is under an evacuation order. It would seem the worst has happened. The tar sands have caught fire. "

The Twitter feed for CBC is covering the event HERE

Latest alert as of 9:13. Officials say go to Anzac evac centre. McDonald Island evac centre now being evacuated

Officials say 18,000 evacuees are travelling south to #yeg . Another 17K have moved north from #ymm . 9K to Lac La Biche. & 8K to Anzac.#CBC

Retweeted by warnicam

"Let's not forget that if the fire gets in to the tar sands they may NEVER put it out


Take this as an example - 

Strongman mine fire still burning after 17 years

The smouldering underground fire that has been burning in the old Strongman Mine since August 1996 has forced workers at the small-scale open-cast mining operation above to take precautions.

Solid Energy spokesman Bryn Somerville said the mining team at the site, in the Nine Mile valley, was regularly working through areas of heated rock and coal so special care was needed in the planning and operation of mining activity.

The company also had consent to divert water from the site to cool areas of heating underground.

The underground fire has raged for 17 years, despite Solid Energy's best efforts to extinguish it. They have tried to quench it, injected grout barriers, removed coal ahead of the fire areas and attempted to starve it of air, all without success....{ }

Ed Suominen
The high temperature there is 89°F today and is expected to be the same tomorrow. In early May, at 53° N. Latitude.

'This is as bad as it gets': 

Super 8 hotel burns behind 

Global News reporter during 


A Super 8 hotel in Fort McMurray burns behind reporter Reid Fiest, as he struggles with wildfire smoke during his live report for Global National. The out-of-control fire nearly doubled in size overnight, sending thousands of residents fleeing as officials issued a mandatory evacuation. 

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