Entire Alberta city of Fort McMurray evacuated due to rampant wildfire

May 4, 2016 8:27 am

Thousands of people were forced from their homes Tuesday in the Alberta city of Fort McMurray as flames from a fire that had been burning in the area were fanned by unpredictable winds and raced into town.


Brian Jean, leader of Alberta’s Wildrose party, the official Opposition, said late Tuesday night that much of downtown Fort McMurray was being destroyed by the fire.


Jean, who is also the member of the legislature for the area, said flames were encroaching on the city centre and the city’s evacuated hospital was on fire.


“Our hospital is on fire, where my children were born,” a sombre Jean told The Canadian Press in an interview. “My home of the last 10 years and the home I had for 15 years before that are both destroyed.


“I’m just hoping that the home I grew up in isn’t, but I’m afraid it probably is.”


“It is a devastating impact but I’m hoping that we’ve had no loss of life,” he said.


“Nobody can go anywhere and the flames have already gone over the side of the road into other neighbourhoods,” said Maryanne Sexsmith-Segato, calling from her car which was trapped in standstill traffic while trying to evacuate.


“Ask anybody and everybody to pray for us,” she said, sobbing. “We just crawled over curbs; we’re on sidewalks trying to get out of this town.”


The fire worsened dramatically in a matter of hours Tuesday, leaving many residents with little notice to flee.


Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said the province was doing all it could to ensure everyone’s safety and stressed the importance of following evacuation instructions.


“As frustrating and as scary as it is to leave your home, it’s not as frustrating and scary as to find that you’re trapped,” Notley said in a late-afternoon update.


Forestry spokesman Bruce Mayer said to expect a “more intense burning day” Wednesday as a cold front was expected to come through the region, bringing with it winds gusting to 50 km/h.


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Source: TheStar.com