Canadian authorities raced against the clock on Tuesday in an attempt to evacuate the city of Fort McMurray, Alberta as wildfires raged out of control. Firefighters from all over Alberta have been trying to control the wildfires as they continued to roar through the city and the district into Wednesday morning.
One of the major concerns is keeping the city’s infrastructure from burning and collapsing especially the lone bridge that leads out of the city. Currently, the entire city of 80,000 people are in a state of evacuation. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that federal help is on the way which may even include the Canadian army.
The smoke has begun to become overwhelming and it is raining black ash everywhere. Hundreds of firefighters, along with tankers and helicopters, are trying to contain the blaze that now covers over 30 square miles. The northern part of the Canadian city of Edmonton has been preparing to stand against the fire as well and to try and take in the 80,000 who are fleeing from Fort McMurray. However, British Columbia, where Edmonton is located, has been battling its own out of control forest fires of late.
People have just dropped everything and begun the exodus out of the burning city. The fires have been raging out of control since Sunday just outside of the city but the winds have shifted dramatically and, on Tuesday, the wildfires turned on Fort McMurray. Residents who are fleeing the city via the only highway out of town and dodging debris from fuel tanks that have been exploding all over the city. Fire officials are reporting that huge swaths of the city have been completely destroyed.
Laura Stewart, fire control spokeswoman for the government of Alberta, said that, “The wildfire’s behavior has been extremely erratic and it isn’t even safe for firefighters to be on the ground. It’s a very fluid situation and things are changing by the moment.”
One young woman, Cassie White, 19, made it out as she is trying to reach Edmonton with her boyfriend, She recalls, “On the left was a big gas station and the flames just leaped over the highway and blew up the gas station. People were driving on the shoulder and the flames were maybe 15 feet high. There was a dump truck on fore. I had to swerve around it. The entire trailer park on my right was completely burned down and roofs were collapsing.”
As White continued to race out of the blazing city, a huge part of a roof crashed onto her car.
“It looks almost like a zombie apocalypse,” she continued. ” At the time I didn’t know if I was going to make it out. I felt like I was in a vacuum bag and all of the air was being sucked out.”
PHOTO SOURCES: Reuters / The Associated Press