Canadian city evacuated after massive wildfire

May 04, 2016, 6:41 AM EDT
Wildfire in Alberta province in 2012
(Source: Government of Alberta/flickr)

A wildfire in Fort McMurray forced the authorities to evacuate 60,000 people from the Canadian city even as firefighters battled hard to control the blaze, which is estimated to have spread over 7,400 acres. Extremely dry conditions coupled with unpredictable winds are believed to have triggered the massive wildfire. No injuries were reported in the tragedy, which forced the largest evacuation in the history of Alberta province.

Fort McMurray is located within Alberta’s oils sands, the third largest oil reserves after those of Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shared his sympathies on a social networking platform and assured assistance to those affected, reports CNN. Although the wildfire engulfed many homes and commercial buildings, there were no reports of casualties.

As the fire spread to Highway 63, which connects Fort McMurray to the south, the administration called for a water-dumping helicopter, writes the BBC. Mass departures by the residents led to severe traffic congestion on a 380 km main road joining the city to Edmonton.

The entire city was thrown into a state of panic with frantic residents “scrambling and fumbling” through the thick layers of haze, notes ABC News. Soaring temperatures and strong winds are likely to worsen the situation, warned forestry manager Bernie Schmitte.