Edmonton: A massive convoy was underway to move evacuees stranded at oil field camps north of Fort McMurray, Alberta amid a massive wildfire that officials fear could double in size by the end of today.
As police and military oversaw the procession of at least 500 vehicles, a mass airlift of evacuees resumed.
A day after 8,000 people were flown out, 5,500 more were expected to be flown out yesterday and another 4,000 were expected to be airlifted today.
More than 80,000 people have left Fort McMurray in the heart of Canada' oil sands, where the fire has torched 1,600 homes and other buildings. The mass evacuation has forced as much as a quarter of Canada's oil output offline according to estimates and is expected to impact a country already hurt by a dramatic fall in the price of oil.
The Alberta provincial government, which declared a state of emergency, said yesterday the size of the blaze had grown to more than 101,000 hectares (249,571 acres). No deaths or injuries were reported.
The government said 1,100 fire fighters, 110 helicopters, 295 pieces of heavy equipment and more than 27 air tankers were fighting the fire. But Chad Morrison, Alberta's manager of wildfire prevention, said the fire covers 101,000 hectares (249,571 acres) and "there is a high potential that the fire could double in size by the end of tomorrow."
Morrison said no amount of resources would put this fire out. They need rain. "We have not seen rain in this area for the last two months of significance," Morrison said. "This fire will continue to burn for a very long time until we see some
Environment Canada forecast a 40 per cent chance of showers in the area today.
Morrison said he expected the fire to expand into a more remote forested area northeast and away from Fort McMurray but said extremely dry conditions and a hot temperature of 27
Celsius (81 Fahrenheit) was expected Saturday along with strong winds. He said cooler conditions were expected Sunday and Monday.
About 25,000 evacuees moved north in the hours after Tuesday's mandatory evacuation, where oil sands work camps that usually house employees were used to house evacuees. But the bulk of the more than 80,000 evacuees fled south to
Edmonton and elsewhere, and officials are moving everyone south where it is safer and they can get better support services. The convoy was stopped for an hour.
The Alberta government is providing cash to 80,000 evacuees from the Fort McMurray fire to help them with their immediate needs. Premier Rachel Notley said her cabinet has approved a payment of USD 1,250 Canadian (USD967) per adult and USD 500 Canadian (USD387) per dependent at a cost to the province of USD 100 million Canadian (USD77 million)....