Canadian officials began evacuating 8,000 people from work camps north of devastated Fort McMurray by air on Thursday and hoped to move thousands more via a highway convoy Friday if it is safe from a massive wildfire raging in Alberta that has grown to 210,035 acres.
More than 80,000 people have emptied Fort McMurray in the heart of Canada’s oil sands, authorities said.
The Alberta government, which declared a state of emergency, said more than 1,100 firefighters, 145 helicopters, 138 pieces of heavy equipment and 22 air tankers were fighting a total of 49 wildfires, with seven considered out of control. Chad Morrison with AB Wildfire, manager of wildfire prevention, said the fire continued to grow but is moving away from Fort McMurray and the rate of its growth has slowed.
About 25,000 evacuees moved north in the hours after Tuesday’s mandatory evacuation, where oil sands work camps were converted to house people. But the bulk of the more than 80,000 evacuees fled south to Edmonton and elsewhere, and officials are moving everyone south where they say they will have better support for the displaced.
Officials had flown 4,000 evacuees to Edmonton and Calgary by Thursday evening and expected to fly 4,000 more by the end of the day. They hoped the highway would become safe enough on Friday to move the remaining people out via the south. It wasn’t safe Thursday. A helicopter will lead the evacuation convoy on Friday morning to make sure the highway is safe. It will pass through Fort McMurray where the fire has torched 1,600 homes and other buildings. For more, visit FOX NEWS.