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Firefighters were helpless to stop the raging wildfire in the city of Fort McMurray, Alberta as the strong, shifting winds drove the flame out of control on Wednesday. The province has declared a state of emergency. A mandatory order was issued to evacuate the entire population of Fort McMurray.
So far, about 88,000 people have been moved out the Canadian city.
Bernie Schmidt, an Alberta forestry official, told reporters that it is a very complex fire, with multiple fronts and explosive conditions, and has resisted all suppression efforts.
An estimated 1,600 homes and buildings have been destroyed in the region, but no deaths or serious injuries were reported.
The evacuees from the northern Alberta town, which is Canada’s oilsands capital, are being put in oilsands work camps and emergency shelters. Shell’s camp is about 95 kilometres away and operating to accommodate people.
Firefighters tried hard to save the city’s water treatment plant, while the airport appears to be at risk. The fire authorities warned that the worst is not yet over.