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Home: Canadian Construction News: 80,000 Residents Flee Fort McMurray Wildfires

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80,000 Residents Flee Fort McMurray Wildfires

Written by; Joy Smithers / TCCN Staff Writer
Added on: Thu May 05 2016


The northern Alberta town known for its diverse oil sands industry, Fort Mc Murray, Alberta, was caught off guard yesterday, May 4th, 2016 by quick spreading raging wild fires.

The government of Alberta quickly issued a state of emergency and by earlier this afternoon, May 5th, 2016, over 80,000 residents and community members fleed the region by a mandatory evacuation order.

The regional municipality had announced a mandatory emergency evacuation of the communities of Gregoire Lake Estates, Anzac and Fort McMurray First Nation, which are located approximately 50 km south of Fort McMurray.

It is estimated that over 1,600 homes and commercial buildings have been destroyed by the fires so far, leaving over thousands of home owners to seek emergency shelters in neaby communities such as Lac La Biche and as far as Edmonton. With the fires still blazing out of control some oilsands mines have also been shut down.

The flames are continuing to spread with temperatures exceeding 30 Celcius combined with high winds.

Firefighters are fighting vigorously to save the city's water treatment plant and the FortMc Murray airport appears to be at risk.

Officials stated that it could be days before the situation is under control and by tomorrow temperatures are expected to fall to a high of 20 Celcius.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley stated that this fire is 4 times larger than a previous fire in Slave Lake in 2011.

"We have basically two things that we have to do," she said from Anzac, where many Fort McMurray residents are staying temporarily. "We have to respond to this emergency, and we have to recover from it."

Notley said the province wide state of emergency will help the province obtain federal funds.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined Notley in encouraging Canadians to donate to the Red Cross. Alberta has said it will match financial donations made to the charity.

Alberta Opposition Leader Brian Jean, who represents Fort McMurray-Athabasca, is among the many whose homes have been destroyed.

"My home is burnt to the ground but it's just stuff," a teary eyed Jean told reporters. "All my stuff, all my memories. I lost a son last year", he said.

Jean, who leads the Wildrose Party, later told reporters that he wants to focus on making sure that everyone leaves Fort McMurray immediately.

"The fires that are surrounding Fort McMurray right now could go in any direction," he said. "And that means they could be cut off from Highway 63 both north and south in the future."

Jean said he is optimistic that the community will be rebuilt better than ever. "We will come back stronger and continue to provide the great economic generation that we do for the rest of the country," he said.

Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Ralph Goodale notified reporters that the Department of National Defence has deployed aircraft, whichh includes helicopters, that will be used to rescue people should the fire threaten some of the areas where residents are staying temporarily.

Local residents and workers of Fort McMurray stated that the city looks like "a ghost town", the sky was "raining ashes" and "it felt like the apocalypse".

Anyone wishing to help by donations can contact The Alberta Red Cross, Salvation Army, the Samaritan's Purse (Fort McMurray), Wood Buffalo Food Bank (Fort McMurray), Edmonton Humane Society, and Fort McMurray SPCA, which have all set up programs to help in this natural disaster.

Residents of Fort McMurray have been publishing videos online of the wildfires, as seen below.

Fort McMurray residents publish online videos of the wild fires

Fort McMurray Wildfires May 2016 Photo's

Fort Mc Murray Alberta WildFire May 2016

Fort McMurray Alberta Wild Fire May 2016

Fort Mc Murray Alberta Wildfire May 2016

Fort McMurray Alberta Wild Fire May 2016

Fort McMurray Alberta WildFire May 2016

Helicopter Rescue Fort Mc Murray Alberta Wildfire May 2016


Copyright: 2016

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