Unrelenting Fire Forces Evacuation of Entire Canadian City

Unrelenting Fire Forces Evacuation of Entire Canadian City

Fort McMurray, Alberta’s 88,000 people were evacuated Tuesday before a wildfire consumed huge swaths of the city.  As of today, mandatory evacuation orders are in place for the Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates and Fort McMurray First Nation communities, and roughly 16% of Canada’s crude oil output is offline. It is the largest evacuation in the history of Alberta.

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The conflagration hits a Fort McMurray neighborhood. Photo via Edmonton CTV.ca

A blaze out of control

At least 1,100 firefighters, 145 helicopters, and 22 tankers have descended on the area to help fight the blaze. This morning, Canadian Natural Resources airlifted 2,600 people to Edmonton and Calgary to make room for more evacuees.

The fire has intermittently  blocked the road south towards the larger cities. Which means the only way out is north to the oil sands area.

Oil production in the area has been grinding to a halt as oil companies evacuate their workers. Most of the oil sands producers are north of Fort McMurray. The downturn in production is being reported by Reuters as affecting the global price of oil.

Reuters also reported,

Thousands bunked down for the night on Wednesday in arenas, hockey rinks and oil work camps that were often short of fuel and food.

Fire also threatened the airport, and web cam images showed black smoke engulfing the area late Wednesday evening. Officials confirmed that a hotel north of the main terminal had caught fire, but as the sun rose on Thursday new images of the airport showed no obvious damage.

Firefighters have been unable to stop the wildfire, which has charred 18,500 acres (7,500 hectares) since it erupted on Sunday and exploded in ferocity.

Over 1,600 houses have burned to the ground. Entire neighborhoods have succumbed to the flames as warm weather worked against firefighters, and high winds pushed the raging inferno. The fire has reportedly grown to around 210,000+ acres. The estimated cost of this fire so far is sitting at $9 Billion in insurance claims, according to CBC.

There have been no reports of casualties directly from the fire itself.