May 4, 2016
Fort McMurray fire officials are prepared for another challenging day Wednesday as firefighters try to save the oilsands city from a massive wildfire that has destroyed homes and businesses, and forced the largest wildfire evacuation in Alberta’s history.
Tens of thousands of people have fled north and south.
Fueled by soaring temperatures that hit 32 C and tinder-dry forest, the fire broached the city limits and by 6:20 p.m. a mandatory evacuation order was issued for the entire city.
“Today has been a devastating day. We have had explosive fire conditions on the landscape brought on by extremely high temperatures” and low relative humidity, Bernie Schmitte, wildfire manager at Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, said Tuesday night during a news conference.
“The fire is still out of control,” Schmitte said. “We have been challenged on many fronts as the fire came through the community. It has entered the community and it has gone through the community.”
Officials have accounted for about 53,000 people, including 17,000 people north of the city, 8,000 in Anzac, 9,000 in Lac La Biche, and 18,000 in Edmonton. Fort McMurray has population of 83,000. “This is not an exact science,” one official said when asked about the discrepancy.
No fatalities or serious injuries have been reported at this time.
Military help has been requested through the province. That assistance will come from the Army and Royal Canadian Air Force. It will take about two days for the military to respond.