Raging Canadian wildfire drives out newly resettled evacuees – USA TODAY

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Alberta declared a state of emergency Wednesday as crews frantically held back wind-whipped wildfires that had already torched 1,600 homes and other buildings in Canada’s main oil sands city of Fort McMurray, forcing over 80,000 residents to flee. (

Alberta declared a state of emergency and widened the mandatory evacuation area around the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, forcing thousands of people who resettled just a day ago ahead of a raging wildfire to pick up and move again Thursday.

Shortly after midnight, Royal Canadian Mounted Police went door-to-door south of the city to move residents in the communities of Anzac, Gregoire Estates and Fort McMurray First Nation, about 30 miles southeast, Fort McMurray Today and other local media reported.

Many of the 88,000 residents of the tar-sands city of Fort McMurray took refuge in the communities after evacuating their homes Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday, they were traveling 180 miles farther south to the town of Lac La Biche.

The fire, fed by unseasonably hot temperatures and dry conditions, roared out of the forests over the weekend. Strong winds from a cold front Wednesday drove it closer to town. No injuries or fire-related fatalities have been reported.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said the blaze so far has destroyed or damaged 1,600 buildings and homes in Fort McMurray.

Scott Long of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency said the fire is largely being kept out of the downtown area thanks to the “herculean’” efforts of firefighters, who are concentrating on saving critical infrastructure, the Associated Press reports.

However, the blazes threatens the city’s airport. Fire crews hustled to the scene, and officials suspended all commercial flights in and out of the city.

Long said the state of emergency declaration “essentially makes the situation ours,” giving the province additional powers and full jurisdiction over the operation. This includes “extraordinary measures” such as conscripting people to assist in firefighting and bulldozing structures to create fire breaks if needed, Long said, according to The Globe and Mail.

About 250 firefighters are battling the blaze, using 12 pieces of heavy equipment and a dozen helicopters, said Danielle Larivee, Alberta’s Minister of Municipal Affairs, the newspaper reports. Airspace is “completely saturated with as many aircraft as are safe,” she said.

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo said the number of evacuees could be as high as 90,000. While most fled to the south, about 10,000 went north to take shelter at work camps that normally serve the oil industry.

Fort McMurray is surrounded by vast forests in the heart of Canada’s oil sands, which represent the the third largest reserves of oil in the world after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

Raging Canadian wildfire drives out newly resettled evacuees – USA TODAY

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