The Only Thing That Is Going To Stop This Fire Is Rain
FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta – As the inferno spreads, Canadian officials are planning to evacuate as many as 25,000 from camps they were moved to for safety. Plans are being made to airlift them to an area 100 miles south of Fort McMurray.
The Alberta’s government, operating in a state of emergency, said more than 1,100 firefighters, 145 helicopters, 138 pieces of heavy equipment and 22 air tankers were currently fighting the inferno. Alberta’s manager of wildfire prevention, Chad Morrison, said rain is needed.
“Let me be clear: air tankers are not going to stop this fire,” he said. “It is going to continue to push through these dry conditions until we actually get some significant rain.
Fox News Reported that more that 90,000 people have now left Fort McMurray and a mass airlift of evacuees was expected to resume on Friday morning, a day after 8,000 people were airlifted to safety on Thursday. Officials say no deaths or injuries related to the fire have been reported.
As the fire grows as many as 25,000 people may be airlifted from camps north of the inferno where they initially fled for safety. As the fire, whipped by 25 mph winds, continued to grow officials are scrambling to organize a massive airlift to transport them to safety more than a hundred miles south of Fort McMurray.
High winds, scorching heat and low humidity helped the fire grow from 29 square miles Tuesday to 39 square miles on Wednesday, but by Thursday it was almost nine times that — at 330 square miles. That’s an area roughly the size of Calgary, Alberta’s largest city.
USA Today reports that unseasonably hot temperatures combined with dry conditions have transformed the boreal forest in much of Alberta into a tinder box. Morrison said the cause of the fire hasn’t been determined, but he said it started in a remote forested area and could have been ignited by lightning.
Crews battling the fire got a little help with temperatures forecast to fall overnight from 61F to the low 30s. Weather forecast for the area predicts a 40 percent chance of showers on Saturday.
Hundreds of homes and businesses have been destroyed but there is a sense of relief that no casualties have been reported, “My home has been burned to the ground,” said one Fort Murray resident who was glad to escape with his life.
Marco Luciano, Albert spokesman for the Coalition for Migrant Workers Rights Canada, said at least 18 people have made it to Edmonton. “They evacuated only with their working uniform on,” he said. “They had no time to pick up anything from their homes, and they came directly to Edmonton yesterday … They don’t know what to do.”
Evacuation efforts are more difficult as there are only two roads out of Fort McMurray which is surrounded by rugged wilderness. The region has the third-largest reserves of oil in the world behind Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.
VIDEO: Canada Evacuating 8000 People By Air As Massive Wildfire Continues To Grow
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sources: Fox News, Youtube, USA Today, Twitter