Entire Canadian City Evacuated as Wildfire Spreads

Fire has overrun Fort McMurray, chief says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 4, 2016 12:12 AM CDT
Entire Canadian City Evacuated as Wildfire Spreads
Smoke from a wildfire rises in the air as cars line up on a road in Fort McMurray, Alberta.   (Greg Halinda)

The entire population of the Canadian oil sands city of Fort McMurray, Alberta, has been ordered to evacuate from a wildfire that officials say destroyed whole neighborhoods. More than 80,000 residents were ordered to flee as flames continued to make their way into the city Tuesday, the AP reports. Highway 63 is the only road out of the city and flames jumped the road, panicking residents. Emergency officials say whole neighborhoods have been destroyed, but they don't have an estimate of the number of homes affected. There have been no reports of serious injuries. The wildfire, whipped by unpredictable winds on a day of high temperatures, worsened dramatically in a short time and many residents had little notice to flee.

"It was absolutely horrifying when we were sitting there in traffic," a woman who drove to an evacuation center with her son and cat says. "You look up and then you watch all the trees candle-topping ... and you're thinking, 'Oh my God. We got out just in time.'" Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says it's the biggest evacuation in the history of the province and said officials are doing all they can to ensure everyone's safety. Oil sands work camps north of the city are being pressed into service to house evacuees. "We've had a devastating day" and the city has been "overrun by wildfire," fire Chief Darby Allen tells the CBC. "It's been the worst day of my career. It's a nasty, ugly fire and it hasn't shown any forgiveness." (More Canada stories.)

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