Tags: fort mcmurray | fire

Fort McMurray Fire Sends 80,000 Canadians Fleeing From Oil Town

Image: Fort McMurray Fire Sends 80,000 Canadians Fleeing From Oil Town
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By    |   Friday, 06 May 2016 05:29 AM

Fort McMurray, Alberta, has been evacuated due to a massive fire that has damaged an estimated 1,600 structures and forced out 80,000 residents.

The BBC reported that the evacuation is thought to be the largest ever conducted in Alberta, and officials said fire could destroy much of the city.

"It was something you'd see in a movie probably," said resident Neil Scott.

"I was stuck between a concrete barrier and the fire and I thought 'You know what? I might not make it out'. There's whole neighborhoods that are gone. A hotel burned down, a gas station exploded. One lady that I met she actually was sheltered behind like an electrical box when it actually exploded and she felt a shockwave."

Firefighters are battling to keep the flames from the downtown area, but the fire is actively burning in some residential areas, wiping out homes and a new school in the rural municipality of Wood Buffalo. Commercial flights were suspended as fire neared the airport late Wednesday, The Associated Press reported.

The area, home to the third largest oil reserves in the world, is surrounded by wilderness that has been recently pressured by unseasonably hot temperatures and dry conditions.

Oil companies have shut off pipelines to allow evacuation of nonessential workers, though the oil facilities weren't in the path of the fire, the BBC noted.

Some residents were evacuated to nearby Anzac and later forced to flee that shelter, The Toronto Star reported.

"So far, I’d have to say people have been amazing," Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said. "They’ve been incredibly patient. They’ve followed what they’ve been asked to do. They’re focusing on taking care of each other, their families, their neighbors."

Regional Mayor Melissa Blake evoked 2011 wildfires that devastated the northern Alberta community of Slave Lake.

“We will hope to follow in the shadow of Slave Lake in our perseverance and resolve,” she said, according to The Star. “And as we look to the future, this is still a place of incredible strength, resiliency and vibrancy.”

Natural Resources Canada said about 8,300 wildfires burn an average of about 2.3 million hectares in the country each year, CBC News reported. But recently those numbers have escalated, with 5,100 forest fires burning more than 4.5 million hectares in 2014 and 6,700 fires taking over more than 4 million hectares last year.

"Climate change models and research all point to the idea that fire season is going to be longer in the coming years, and the fires will be more severe," said David Andison, adjunct professor with the faculty of forestry at UBC, according to CBC. "It will really just be the new normal."

Twitter users shared many dramatic images of the fire.






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Fort McMurray, Alberta, has been evacuated due to a massive fire that has damaged an estimated 1,600 structures and forced out 80,000 residents.
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2016-29-06
Friday, 06 May 2016 05:29 AM
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