The Canadian oil-sands city of Fort McMurray has been submerged in fire as 88 thousands residents were forced to flee their hometown.
An area the size of Manhattan has been set afire and over 1,600 buildings have been destroyed in the events. Being the largest evacuation in the history of the province of Alberta, there have been no reported deaths at this time.
“Stay strong, stay safe – be the brave people I know that you are”
Mayor Melissa Blake addressed the citizens by asking them to “stay strong” and to take the necessary precautions to ensure their family’s safety. The fire started last Tuesday at 5 pm, and on Wednesday morning the whole city of Fort McMurray was set under a mandatory evacuation notice. All of the flights entering and exiting Fort McMurray have been canceled. In addition, there’s a major concern in protecting Highway 63, the sole major route that leads to the city.
Citizens escaped among fire and smoke, as Fort McMurray resident NHL player Doug Sulliman commented how he heard explosions. Sulliman claims he saw how the community was ravaged by fire.
“There was a Shell gas station that blew up and a Denny’s next door. There was nothing but the foundation,” said NHL player Doug Sulliman.
Flames in Industrial area south Fort McMurray. People packing up and getting out. #cbc #ymmfire pic.twitter.com/Wigiyxki3x
— Terry Reith (@TerryReithCBC) May 3, 2016
Over two-hundred firefighters were deployed to fight the fire. Yet, there has not been much progress rather than keeping the civilians safe. Fire Chief Darby Allen stated that although some areas of the city have not yet been reached by the fire, they expect them to be scorched during the following days. This outlook could be possible if the fire does not wear off.
Canadian Highway 63 turns to the Highway to Hell
According to officials, the fire was caused by unusually dry weather along warm May temperatures of 90 °F. Which turned Fort McMurray’s surrounding forest into an open fireplace. It is worth noting that grounds of Alberta contain the third-largest oil reserves in the world. Alberta is just behind Venezuela and Saudi Arabia in these terms. Although most oil-drilling projects lie far from the city, firefighters have great care as to whether the fire will reach the nearby oil fields. Notably, oil operations were canceled in order to protect workers and to allow them to join their families.
My harrowing drive evacuating #ymm praying for my friends pic.twitter.com/XGFWfavqR2
— Jordan J Stuffco (@jstuffcocrimlaw) May 3, 2016
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers announced there were regent contingency plans in case of forest fires, which account for the facilities lying in Fort McMurray. Spokeswoman Chelsie Klassen stated that most of the oil in the vicinity lied deep underground and that it was not likable to be reached by the flames. Still, it can burn under specific circumstances.
Source: NBC News