Hot, dry winds threaten to worsen ‘hellish’ Fort McMurray wildfire today

May 4, 2016

By: The Star

The only highway leading south from fire-ravaged Fort McMurray was “organized confusion” Wednesday morning, with cars strung along ditches, police running jerry cans of gasoline and long bottlenecks at the few communities along the road.

“There’s a lot of vehicles on the side of the road,” said RCMP Sgt. John Spaans of Boyle, a small town about two-thirds of the way from the oilsands capital to Edmonton.

“It’s tough to say if these people have broken down and pulled over, run out of gas, or simply parked and camped, but there are a lot of vehicles that are in the ditches, medians, along the shoulders. Highway 63 is packed with that.”

Thousands were fleeing a wildfire that still rages in the northern Alberta oilsands city of Fort McMurray.

The flames have now destroyed 80 per cent of the homes in one neighbourhood and extensively damaged property in a number of others.

An overnight update from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo says the Beacon Hill suburb in the south end has suffered the most damage from flames that ripped into the city Tuesday afternoon, forcing the evacuation of all 80,000 residents.

The only highway leading south from fire-ravaged Fort McMurray was “organized confusion” Wednesday morning, with cars strung along ditches, police running jerry cans of gasoline and long bottlenecks at the few communities along the road.

“There’s a lot of vehicles on the side of the road,” said RCMP Sgt. John Spaans of Boyle, a small town about two-thirds of the way from the oilsands capital to Edmonton.

“It’s tough to say if these people have broken down and pulled over, run out of gas, or simply parked and camped, but there are a lot of vehicles that are in the ditches, medians, along the shoulders. Highway 63 is packed with that.”

Thousands were fleeing a wildfire that still rages in the northern Alberta oilsands city of Fort McMurray.

The flames have now destroyed 80 per cent of the homes in one neighbourhood and extensively damaged property in a number of others.

An overnight update from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo says the Beacon Hill suburb in the south end has suffered the most damage from flames that ripped into the city Tuesday afternoon, forcing the evacuation of all 80,000 residents.

Forestry manager Bernie Schmitte said at a late Tuesday conference call with the media that the worst of the blaze “is not over.”

“We’re still faced with very high temperatures (today), low relative humidities and some strong winds.”

Meanwhile, long traffic bottlenecks were forming at the communities of Wandering River and Grasslands, two of the first communities along the highway south of Fort McMurray. The municipality was advising drivers who had run out of gas to stay put.

By: The Star

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